By Linda Dillman
How has the pandemic impacted need?
Look no further than the increase in requests for help with food and finances experienced by Canal Winchester’s Human Services.
How has the pandemic impacted food and financial support?
Look no further than across the street and around the corner throughout the community, whose monetary and food donations provide a lifeline for those in need.
In fiscal year 2021, Human Services provided $22,213 in emergency assistance, which was a huge increase compared to 2020’s $4,988.
“So far, for fiscal year 2022 we have provided $8,272 to keep people’s utilities on and to keep them in their homes,” said Human Services Director Aletha Mullins. “I have seen many different situations as to why residents are needing assistance for utilities such as, cut hours, job loss, or shutdowns.”
The holidays prove to be one of the greatest times of need for services. During the winter months’ utilities are higher for some and for others a spouse might work a job where they get laid off for the winter.
“Whatever the need may be, we are here to support our community in any way that we can,” said Mullins.
Typically, Human Services sees an increase in emergency assistance and holiday assistance with food during colder months.
Last year, 4,836 people were served through the food pantry. Over 2,370 people have sought assistance so far in 2021 and, while the pantry is currently stocked and ready to serve clients, they are in need of hygiene items and laundry soap.
Mullins said Human Services is prepared for the holidays due to the generosity from the community, United Way of Fairfield County, Fairfield Foundation, local businesses, and local corporations and organizations.
For Thanksgiving, a basket full of supplies was provided to families, in addition to a turkey, milk, eggs, butter, and fresh produce.
“We were able to provide this due to our partnership with the Byron Saunders Foundation and Canal Winchester Local Schools,” said Mullins. “Each school building collected requested items to make the Thanksgiving Baskets. During Christmas, we also provide a Christmas Food Basket. It includes a ham, milk, eggs, butter, and fresh produce. Our Adopt-A-Family program served 277 people in 2020, with 189 being children that were adopted.”
Every child receives two outfits, socks, shoes, pajamas, underwear and three items from “Santa.” The family is also able to choose coats, hats, gloves, and scarfs for everyone in the household, in addition to the food basket.
Mullins said Human Services is blessed to work and partner with both Canal Winchester and Lithopolis, adding that residents, churches, and civic groups are always willing to help meet the needs of the community.
Churches ask to adopt children for the Adopt-A-Family program as well as teachers throughout the district, residents and businesses. Several local shops have “Santa Boots” in their store to collect change for Adopt-A-Family.
“Impact Nutrition is collecting personal care and hygiene items for us,” said Mullins. “We just received a wonderful donation of food items from Nifco in Canal Winchester. The generosity of our communities never ceases to amaze us. Together we help so many. As each year comes and goes, we are thankful to still be here to serve the public.”
For information about programming, donating or if there is a need for service, call 614-834-4700, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There are qualifications for every program, but Human Services staff is available to assist anyone or point them in the right direction.