Local Pantry in Great Need of Toys for Christmas Shoppe

Growing Number of Poor Families Exceed Available Resources

TOLEDO, Ohio–Dec. 3, 2009–Food For Thought, a local nonprofit group that helps feed the area's less fortunate, is in need of new toys for a Christmas Shoppe that is being held on Dec. 19, 2009 at New Harvest Christian Church, 3540 Seaman Road in Oregon.

The Christmas Shoppe is a volunteer effort to provide gifts for families that otherwise would not be able to purchase them. Many of the patrons are working families that don’t have expendable income for non-essential items, including holiday presents.

Unfortunately, the need has outgrown the resources available to assist these families. The organization has reached capacity for the families currently served and will not have the ability to help others, or even those presently signed up, unless more donations are received. Last year, volunteers through Food For Thought provided gifts for 225 children. The anticipated need this year is gifts for 400-500 children.

Food For Thought is also searching for a group, business or volunteer organization to partner in planning and execution of the day’s events. These groups are asked to provide snacks for the shoppers and also assist in socializing with the clients.

Those interested in donating new, unwrapped toys or partnering with Food For Thought for the event may contact Tana Schiewer at 419.972.1338 or tana@freelunchtoledo.com. Toys must be delivered by Dec. 14, 2009. Monetary donations are also being accepted to purchase additional toys if needed.

Food For Thought is a local nonprofit organization serving Lucas County through multiple avenues. Beginning as a small Saturday morning gathering, Food For Thought now serves sack lunches, including their famous PB&J, to around 350 individuals every Saturday morning in downtown Toledo. Their choice mobile food pantry allows them to serve over 300 families per month by providing a variety of food and resources to those
that may not otherwise have access to a pantry. The Oregon food pantry housed in space donated by New Harvest Christian Church helped feed nearly 1300 families last month alone.

For more information, please visit www.freelunchtoledo.com, or the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter.

Who We Are, WHY We Are, and What We Do

History Food for Thought (FFT) began in May of 2007 when a group of people came together with a common passion to feed the hungry. This group started with feeding 8 families a month through a stationary pantry in Oregon and 50 lunches, consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, fruit, a juice box, and a cookie, that we took to downtown Toledo on Saturday mornings.

A year later, FFT was serving 200 families a month though our pantry and passing out 300 lunches in less than 30 minutes downtown. Downtown lunch distribution grew into more than a meal, as several churches and other organizations joined the group to provide items in addition to the sack lunches, such as soup, coffee, hygiene products, and clothing. On special occasions, special groups or individuals will bring additional items for fun, such as balloons, flowers, or ice cream.

Throughout 2008 other organizations started partnering with FFT in different ways – United Way of Greater Toledo, Mildred Bayer’s Mobile Medical Clinic, 1matters.org, Hannah’s Socks, Toledo Area Ministries – amongst others.

Our food pantry also started to grow – quickly. Word was out that we allowed people to shop through our pantry (making choices for family is an important thing for all of us), not just receive a box with miscellaneous products. We began receiving phone calls from individuals who had heard about our pantry but had no way of getting to us. We did our best to direct them to their nearest pantry but it became quickly apparent that there were many who did not have much (or any) access to a food pantry.

This was the beginning stages of our Mobile Food Pantry. A donor stepped forward to purchase the 7’x16’ enclosed trailer that today is our Mobile Food Pantry, which now serves several locations – West Toledo, Lake Township, Monclova Township, South Toledo, North Toledo to name a few.

Food for Thought now consistently serves 1,000 families per month through the two pantries, in addition to 300 people each Saturday at the “Downtown Picnics.” In addition, Food for Thought is consistently stepping up to provide other needs as possible, including hygiene products, clothing, and cold weather items during the winter.
Mission, Purpose, & Vision Food for Thought is not about solving hunger... it is about building relationships! It is about feeding more than just the body. The number one enemy the homeless fight is loneliness.

Food For Thought's purpose is to be a gateway between poverty and prosperity.
Food For Thought's mission is to serve those in various needs despite their position in order to develop relationships that aid in reconciliation and redemption.

Food For Thought's vision is that everyone realizes their worth through serving others.
We are an organization of people who care about others and want to help those in need. We believe serving can change both those who are served and those who are serving. And we believe anyone can serve. In fact, we often see generous, selfless behavior from our friends on the street helping each other. It's getting to see that compassion, seeing people opening up and sharing their stories, seeing them realize they still matter in the world, and seeing them start to take steps to change their lives... all this has changed us, too, and we love it.

Our focus will be, as always, on developing relationships instead of just having activities. We want Food For Thought to be used as a tool to bring communities together, to help those around them.

Currently, Food For Thought has three main components:
1. Our Stationary Food and Clothing Pantry that serves the Oregon and Toledo area. As of the end of December we are serving over 700 families a month. We are a choice pantry, which means that people have the opportunity to shop for the items their family will enjoy the most.

We are open Monday-Thursday from 10:00am-2:00pm.
2. Our Mobile pantry is a tool to be used by communities, to contribute to, and take part in, to help with the needs in their area. We are building relationships with other people and organizations that schedule the mobile pantry into their neighborhood, and then we stand with them and support them in building the relationships with the people they are reaching out to.

The Mobile panty is used to expand our services to more rural areas where transportation to stationary food and clothing pantries is extremely difficult, and to areas where no pantries currently exist.

As we grow, we envision expanding our scope to include other marginalized sectors of the community: senior citizens in nursing homes, people with disabilities, and those that have problems with transportation.

3. Saturday Morning Lunch Distribution - Saturday mornings gives a venue to individuals and organizations to partner together. Each week we serve between 250-500 people. We give away food, clothing, hygiene items and FRIENDSHIP!

By filling specific needs for individuals (such as steel-toed work boots, bus passes, maternity and/or baby items, or just an ear to listen), we assist in bringing stability to people’s lives and possibly aid them in a transitional phase. Saturdays provide the opportunity for everyone who desires to give back by serving in some way the chance to do so, including those who are being served themselves.

For more information, or to explore partnership opportunities, please contact:
Tana M. Schiewer, Executive Director
3540 Seaman Rd. Oregon Ohio 43616
419-972-1338 (office)

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