By Colleen Lockhart
Oct. 4, 2019 marked the first day of the new location for the veteran’s food pantry in Geauga County. Volunteer pantry manager Lynn Algeri and assistant Pam Wiech are happy to call the former Pleasant Hill County Home at 13211 Aquilla Rd. in Chardon their permanent location.
Not a drop- in location, veterans must be qualified through the Geauga County Veterans Services Commission (GCVSC) before their name is added to the list. Veterans do their shopping starting with the fresh fruits and vegetables and work their way to the staples room. Homebound veterans receive a good selection of food available and can call with special requests.
VFW Posts in the County act as collection sights during the week and arrange to bring the donations to the new location. The pantry has freezer space and can accept perishable items. They receive donations from Sages Apples, Beans and Giant Eagle in Chardon, the Silver Skillet and Eddy Fruit Farm in Chester, Kobella Plumbing in Newbury, Panera Bread in Bainbridge, area churches and other businesses and organizations. Recently, Square Up Barber Shop in Chardon offered free haircuts for veterans.
Algeri became involved as a volunteer at the Middlefield VFW Post about 10 years ago when her daughter sustained injuries during deployment in Iraq. The support she received from the GCVSC led her to become involved as a non-veteran.
The volunteers appreciate all the help and support the pantry receives. Algeri’s hope is that people will increase their generosity throughout the year to include the other ten months, focusing less on November and December. The need is great for our veterans-in-need who depend on the pantry every day of the year.
All food pantries in the County talk to each other. When one has an abundance of an item with an upcoming expiration date, they will contact each other to find a location in need of that item.
The basement of the pantry has lots of room and a seating area for a rotating group of four or five volunteers to “talk the talk” about issues important to other veterans. Currently the pantry is open on Fridays, with volunteers arriving around 10 a.m. and staying until 2 p.m. to serve all veterans from all branches that have been qualified through the GCVSC. As more veterans sign up, a second day may be added to accommodate them. Applications are available to Geauga County veterans by calling 440-279-1860.
Colleen Lockhart is a lifelong resident of Geauga County. She serves on the Department on Aging Executive Board, Geauga Safety Council, Middlefield Chamber of Commerce, Huntsburg Grange #2541 and is a member of Huntsburg Congregational Church and Huntsburg Historical Society.