When we think of Westerville, a vibrant historic city comes to mind. While the City is growing and thriving, it is easy to forget that we still have neighbors in need. The beauty of this time of year is that we are reminded we have the power to help those in need in our community.
“This is our busiest time of the year. The need is greater during the holidays and donations for our 500 client families will help for months to come. Every little bit counts,” said Claire Rockwell, Westerville Area Resource Ministry.
Parks and Recreation’s Month of Caring at the Westerville Community Center runs through December 21 benefiting both W.A.R.M. and Caring & Sharing. Anyone can participate.
“This program is one we love to put on every year. We want it to be easy for our patrons to drop-off donations before they work out or take a class at the Community Center. It is amazing to see how quickly the donation box fills up day after day,” said Lyn Kiger, Westerville Parks and Recreation Supervisor.
But the season of giving doesn’t stop with the Parks and Recreation Department. Every department within the City of Westerville participated in the annual food drive for Westerville Caring & Sharing.
City employees have collected 140,101 lbs of food since 1996. Linda Weir, Westerville Fire Division’s Administrative Secretary, helped start the internal initiative almost two decades ago.
“This food drive has grown tremendously over the past 19 years. We have a friendly competition among the departments to see who can collect the most donations. Each year, our city employees continue to step up for a good cause,” said Linda Weir.
This year was no different. Three city trucks pulled up to Caring & Sharing’s donation site on Thursday, December 11 to drop off all kinds of grocery staples and toys for the kids.
“This is my favorite part of the year, you can see the difference you are going to make in Westerville, in the lives of local families,” said Linda.
Westerville Caring & Sharing is an all-volunteer organization and uses a temporary site during the holidays to distribute to more than 300 families.
“We start with this huge empty building. The space is graciously donated for us to use and within a few days it is packed with toys, food, and volunteers. We wouldn’t be able to have this impact without the volunteers,” said Westerville Caring & Sharing volunteer Mary Pugh.
Because it is mainly Westerville residents helping others in Westerville, the organization keeps all the families confidential.
“People are shy to ask for help, and it is important for them to keep their dignity. We go to great lengths to show families that they can come to us if they need it and they have no reason to feel embarrassed,” said Mary.
As Westerville Caring & Sharing helpers prepared for the big distribution day on December 15, volunteers from the Westerville Service Department unloaded 10,274 lbs of donations with smiles, jokes and a great attitude.
Many of the departments go above and beyond the citywide food drive, hosting other holiday fundraisers in the community to give back. For more ways to donate or details on our Month of Caring, visit the City website at westerville.org.