‘Bowls of Hope’ event set for Saturday

From left to right, First Place Food Pantry board of directors member Ann Welch; volunteers Mike Risheill and Larry Kinder; FPFP Executive Director Donna Wilkerson; and board member Sharon Buse work to unbox food at the pantry, located at 721 Lincoln Ave., in Troy. Two of the pottery bowls donated for the “Bowls of Hope” event are pictured in front.

Aimee Hancock | Miami Valley Today

TROY — First Place Food Pantry will host its inaugural “Bowls of Hope” fundraiser event on Saturday, Sept. 14, at First Place Christian Center, located at 15 W. Franklin St., in Troy.

A limited number of tickets are still available and are $30 each. Email fpfoodpantry@gmail.com, or call 937-418-6836 for more information.

The food pantry, located 721 Lincoln Ave. in Troy, was founded in 2002 by First United Methodist Church of Troy, but is now a standalone 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has been since 2012.

Members of the FPFP board of directors, Ann Welch and Sharon Buse, said while the organization receives many donations, it still has some difficulty covering overhead operating costs, which is one of the reasons a fundraiser was planned.

“We try to operate while being value-conscious, but we do have expenses to make sure we continue to have the space that we have now,” Welch said. “Although we have a lot of things donated, we have to purchase some items, so this fundraiser will help to put a little money in our coffers so we can continue providing the services that we do.”

Planning for the “Bowls of Hope” fundraiser began earlier this year and, according to Welch, the community has been more than generous with willingness to help.

“It’s been overwhelming,” she said. “I haven’t been turned down by anyone when I’ve gone out seeking sponsorships from the community.”

Welch noted that several local restaurants donated food for the event, and 15 corporations provided sponsorships.

Along with a meal, the fundraising event will include entertainment provided by Cove Springs Praise Choir, a silent auction, a live auction, and raffles.

In reference to the event’s name — “Bowls of Hope” — there will be just over 20 handmade ceramic bowls up for auction. The bowls were made by Edison State Community College students and donated by the school with the help of adjunct professor Maggie Sykes.

Other auction items include gift baskets, Miami University at Ohio State University game tickets, a KitchenAid mixer, and a “party bus” experience provided by Arbogast-Ford.

Those who are unable to attend the dinner may still visit the event at 8 p.m. to participate in the live auction.

Raffle prizes include gift cards to local restaurant and an ice-skating pass for Hobart, along with other various items.

Anyone interested in donating to the pantry may do so by sending a check or cash to First Place Food Pantry, 721 Lincoln Ave., Troy; or by visiting www.columbusfoundation.org — click “Give Now,” then choose “The Giving Store,” and type First Place Food Pantry into the search bar.

Along with funds, the pantry has a list of “special needs” donations, which includes pasta (rigatoni, lasagna, shells, egg noodles), personal care items, paper towels, diapers, and baby food.

To volunteer at the FPFP, contact Donna Wilkerson, executive director, at 937-335-2826.

Another way to help out is by visiting Meijer, now through the end of September, to donate via the store’s Simply Give program.

During this September Simply Give campaign, customers are encouraged to purchase a $10 (or more) donation card upon checkout, which is converted into a Meijer food-only gift card and donated directly to the food pantry.

On Friday, Sept. 13, each donation made via Simply Give will be matched by the Meijer Corporation.

Buse and Welch noted that, along with the fundraising aspect, another reason for planning the “Bowls of Hope” event was to help the community become aware of the pantry, what it does, and who it serves.

“We’ve been really impacted by the opioid epidemic because we have a lot of seniors now who are caring for young ones in their homes on a fixed income,” Buse said.

Welch added that many food pantry visitors are part of working families who are over the income guidelines to qualify for government assistance, but who still struggle to make ends meet.

“You’ve got a lot of people who are working, but a lot of them are working part time jobs or they’re very low-paying jobs,” Welch said. “So, what do you do? You’ve got to choose between paying the rent or buying food or buying medicine.”

Buse said it’s also important for the FPFP to provide a safe, accepting environment for the people it serves.

“One word that we’ve had a lot of discussion about within our board is the word ‘nourish,’ and what does nourish mean? It’s more than just feeding,” she said. “When people are in this type of situation, they need more than just the food; they need some place where they can feel respected.”