The Clearinghouse Pantry in Aurora, Indiana sits atop a tiny hill, slightly removed from the street. A gentleman in a Santa hat loading bags of groceries into the trunk of a car waves enthusiastically and wishes me a Merry Christmas as I emerge from my car. I hurry into the building, my scarf pulled tightly around me, bracing against the whistling, arctic gust. As I walk through the doorway I find myself in a big cheerful room with a vaulted ceiling, festive with brightly colored Christmas decorations and bustling with excited shoppers and helpers. I am greeted by Karry Hollan, Executive Director of the pantry. “I am so glad to meet you,” she says as we hug. I soak it all in, delighted by the warm smiles, cheerful voices, holiday hats and Christmas music. It was worth it to visit Aurora, Indiana to be a part of this!
The Clearinghouse was established in 1981. At first it was meant to be just a clearing house for all of the community’s humanitarian efforts. More than 30 years later, the Clearinghouse is now a wonderful partner to the Freestore Foodbank, leading the effort to end hunger in Dearborn and Ohio counties in Indiana and operating three food facilities in Lawrenceberg, Greendale and Aurora. “We do our best to maximize the use of the space we have,” Karry remarks as she gives me a tour of the building, packed from floor to ceiling with hundreds of items including food, household appliances, furniture, clothes and toys. Recently they received a grant from the Subaru foundation to purchase a walking stacker. Clearing House is one of the Freestore Foodbank’s biggest distributors of fresh food received through federal grants. Recently they started operating a mobile pantry in the community. “Ever since we started the mobile pantry, we have been getting requests from several different parts of the community,” says Karry. “We’ve been to the Parole Department and to Ivy Tech Community College so far. But there are a lot of other spots to reach. The need is so great.”
Clearinghouse distributes “Snack Sacks” (similar to the Freestore Foodbank’s Power Packs) to schools in the neighborhood. During the holiday season they organize a toy drive called the Toy Coalition. Nearly 500 children will receive toys this year. The pantry has three staff-members. The rest are all volunteers from the local community. The Mayor and his staff have offered to help distribute toys over the holidays and also donated $1,000. “We are blessed to be part of a very caring community,” remarks Karry. “I hardly ever have to ask for anything. I merely mention an idea and it happens!”
The Freestore Foodbank is proud to partner with Clearinghouse to provide nutritious meals to communities in Indiana.