The WHC’s monthly food distribution offers more than just groceries. Its powerful display of kindness and hope fills up the fairgrounds with a sense of relief and comfort.
“There are very few opportunities where you can go to a community event and see so many different organizations working together for the same cause. There’s no tug of war. We’re all here for the same reasons,” said Jamie Jackson, volunteer.
Those in attendance included DayBreak Community Church, Church of the Saviour, Parkview Christian Church, Grace Brethren Church, West Hill Baptist Church, Salem Mennonite Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Wooster Church of the Nazarene, Child Support Enforcement Agency, Viola Startzman Free Clinic, Kohl’s department store, SanMandy Enterprises, The College of Wooster students, Wooster Noon Kiwanis, Gabriel Project, and Girl Scout Troop 238. There were also volunteers that were not affiliated with any churches or organizations.
“We want the people that come through to feel like they’re part of this family,” Frazier continued. “We’re all about relationships and treating people with respect and dignity. We try to do this every part of the distribution.”
According to Emily Frazier, administrative assistant for the WHC, the registration process sets the tone for the rest of the experience. It’s where the smiles and positive words create a net of safety and comfort. They are then guided to the social service tables and then to the food.
During the actual distribution, volunteers utilized wagons and walked community members through the line, allowing them to choose from the variety of food available. The following items were offered from the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank: potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, apples, bread, assorted refrigerated goods, assorted can goods, assorted dry goods and dry fruit. Frito Lay donated a variety of potato chips.
Likewise, Nancy Flinner has been providing free haircuts throughout the food distribution since July. She spoke of the self-esteem the haircuts offer community members.
“It’s just a way to give back to society,” Flinner said. “I’m here to serve.”
The food distribution may have been heavy with the 17,500 pounds of groceries, the social service fair, the free haircuts and the transportation services, but that’s just what was presented on the surface. Beneath that was an ever-growing relationship between the volunteers and the community members.
One didn’t have to look far to see it, either. That same burst of laughter and chatter, heard from the volunteers early in the morning, could also be found by those in the line—a true reflection of the event’s calming effect. A child’s birthday was even celebrated in line with a song.
Joe Rubino, outreach pastor for Parkview Christian Church, said that the relationship is the foundation of the entire experience, because with the relationship, teaching can take place. And with teaching, those in need can learn new skills to improve self-sufficiency.
“I’m on social security and the check doesn’t always stretch,” said Lenora Bennett. “This is, like I say, a real blessing.”
Richard Frazier said many times over that the distribution was all about the community helping the community. There were 76 volunteers assisting 335 families in a constant rotation of kindness. Kindness has a way of perpetuating with each person, too—brightening up days and filling up stomachs in complete harmony.
Published: April 18, 2012