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Donation Comes at Crucial Time for Food Pantry

Open Hands Food Pantry, which recently got a $20,000 grant, has seen poverty shifting to younger, college-educated clients. “That’s upsetting,” said the nonprofit’s director.

The Open Hands Food Pantry shelves were bare before a $20,000 grant from The Village Club Foundation. (Photo: Open Hands Food Pantry Facebook page)
The Open Hands Food Pantry shelves were bare before a $20,000 grant from The Village Club Foundation. (Photo: Open Hands Food Pantry Facebook page)

A recent $20,000 donation to the Open Hands Food Pantry is special not just because it will replenish empty shelves and fill hungry stomachs, but also because the initial $10,000 grant was doubled by a “matching angel” who stretches charitable contributions by The Village Club Foundation.

The donation from the Bloomfield Hills-Based charity, which The Observer & Eccentric reports has given $1.8 million to 185 local agencies over the past 31 decades, will allow the food pantry to purchase more nutrient-rich foods, such as high-protein peanut butter and tuna.

Those are staples for the all-volunteer pantry, which provides emergency food and toiletries to residents of Oakland County, but volunteers have lacked the purchasing power to buy them for about two years.

Village Club Foundation president Jan Hewlett told The Observer & Eccentric that presenting the $20,000 check to help the pantry restock its shelves “is right up there with something I will remember forever.”

“It was something I cannot even describe,” she said. “It was very heartwarming.”

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The food pantry grant was one of the largest of the $140,000 in grants made to 50 non-profit  organizations this year. Food pantry manager Janet Warren told The Observer & Eccentric her heart was “pounding like crazy” when she heard about the donation.

“It was just like Christmas,” Warren said. “It is just a wonderful thing, and what it does is take away the worry we have that we are going to run out of money.”

Warren said the last few years at the food pantry have been the busiest as poverty shifts. “We have had a lot of people coming on a regular basis for many years, but now we are seeing more and more college-educated young people and that is so upsetting to us,” she told the newspaper.

She said it will help the organization expand its reach beyond the 13,000 people per year currently served and increase its purchasing power beyond the  $3,000 to $4,000 a month spent at the Cleaners Community Food Bank.

Gleaners, one of the first food banks in the United States, works with more than 550 partner soup kitchens, shelters and pantries in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties. Last year, Gleaners distributed 41 million pounds of emergency food.

The Helping Hands Food Pantry is located at St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at Woodward Avenue and 11 Mile Road in Royal Oak. Hours of operation are Mondays from 12:30-2:45 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30-11:45 a.m.

» Read the full story on The Observer & Eccentric.

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