Saturday, September 6, 2014

Growing For The Hungry

A week ago I posted about the Gehres's establishing the Food Pantry and said I would follow up with what the Children's Garden involvement was with this program. This is a short summary of what this group has done.

When we were establishing the Children's Garden at Smiley Park, Van Wert, Ohio, we decided, it would  be a learning garden, to teach about healthy living. Through sponsorship from our local Hospital,  we established "The Healthy Me Garden". There is a large red bowl with a large salad fork and spoon, designed by a local craftsman. We grew all the greens to make a salad. A local business donated a grocery cart to be the planter for growing our herbs. We incorporated  several raised beds to grow the different vegetables.

Here we taught how our food grows.  Many young people think it comes from the supermarket .We have had tasting programs and made vegetable pizzas using different vegetables. 
We had two young gentlemen from a local school that adopted this garden as part of a FFA  (Future Farmers Of America)  project and both were able to obtain scholarships for college. They experimented with different crops and have conducted education programs for youth. They gave a lot of them selves with this commitment.

Another garden called " Busy Hands" was a garden designed for young children beginning 4H. They chose what they wanted to grow. This was managed with a 4H adviser.

Over a Sunday morning breakfast, following church, the idea grew for the "Growing For The Hungry". It became the inspiration for starting our sharing our produce with the local food pantry. A local business man that has been very supportive of our program at the garden came forward with funds to establish this garden. This garden has four raised beds.  This year a young mother and her two daughters managed this garden. It was a good experience for a family working together knowing they were helping some one who was in need. What a way to make children aware of what they can do to contribute to their community. As they grow older they will look back and realize what they did. The seed has been planted .

In these combined gardens we grew strawberries, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, greens, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and numerous other crops.

One in seven families have need of the food bank. Scouts, civic groups and churches canvas for food for the pantry as well as the Salvation Army. Private individuals also share. They are always in need. At the present they are needing canned soups. Be thankful for what you have and always be mindful of others.

We want to thank all the people that makes this possible. Giving of one self is the greatest gift of all.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Food Pantry

Today I delivered some produce to the Food Pantry at the First United Methodist Church. While there I became aware of a story about the Food Pantry. My plan was to write a blog on the Children's Gardens involvement with growing food for the hungry. After seeing this story I have decided, with permission, to post this story. At a later time I will post the story of the Children's Gardens involvement.

I know this will take some time to read, but please do. This woman was amazing and totally gave of herself. As you read this, see what one committed woman did to make a difference. This is within all of us. What can you do?

Phyllis and Wayne Gehres

Phyllis Gehres

Phyllis began feeding the hungry children in Van Wert County in 1975 She volunteered her time to administer the Zook Fund, which was a fund established through the First United Methodist Church to assist the needy poor. Phyllis continued on in this capacity until 1981. The fund served fourteen families in 1975 gradually increasing to 169 families helped in 1980. She made the congregation aware of the need and the donations came in.

In 1981 Phyllis shared her concerns for the needy children with the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries. They agreed to establish a food pantry if Phyllis would volunteer to manage it. She agreed and the United Methodist Cooperative Food Pantry became a reality.

As you can imagine there was a lot of food to take in, shelve and dispense, and also food to purchase with donations received. From the beginning Phyllis established that 100% of the funds donated would be used for food. She, or other volunteers she recruited, would donate all other expenses. Phyllis and her husband, Wayne, would drive their station wagon to Toledo to buy food at a discount.

In 1989 The Food Pantry became an agency of the Lima Area Food Bank, currently known as the West Ohio Food Bank. Between October of' '89' and September '99' Phyllis, Wayne and their station wagon made over 100 trips to Lima for food, a distance of over seventy miles round trip. Phyllis arranged for our Food Pantry to become an agency of Second Harvest in 1999.  Second Harvest now supplies some of our food at no cost to us.

Phyllis worked in the pantry through the days and shared her concerns for the needy with any group that would have her speak in the evenings. Because of her efforts we now regularly receive donations from several churches that are not a part of Cooperative Ministries; we also receive donations from our area businesses, schools, sororities, county employees and youth groups. The Scouts conduct our biggest food drive each year. They distribute bags one Saturday and the following Saturday pick them up full of food.  Phyllis always managed to provide plenty of hot chocolate and cookies for the scouts.

Her efforts have resulted in making the Food Pantry a community effort to feed hungry children. It is truly a miracle.

Despite illnesses, which have seriously affected both Wayne and herself, Phyllis remained active in the Food Pantry until April 2002. Over the past 27 years she has contributed large amounts of time and money to feed the hungry. Phyllis and Wayne are of modest means and her contributions remind me of Luke 21:1-4.

It would have been easy for Phyllis to become discouraged by the immense task of trying to feed all the hungry children in the world but her philosophy was much the same as Mother Teresa's, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."Each child fed is one child that won't go to bed hungry.

I soon will be posting what we are doing at the Children's Garden to help........Louise.


Monday, August 18, 2014

New Residents

The last few days I had a funny feeling that we were being inhabited by something or someone. The first signs came from the front landscape when I noticed someone had dug a hole in the mulch under one of the boxwood bushes. Since I was trying to clean up around the house from weeds that I unfortunately let grow, I flattened and covered the hole.

The following night when I came home in the dark my headlights caught the glimpse of a four legged furry creature fleeing from the house. Naturally, the next morning I decided to check it out, once again the hole had appeared in the same location. In double checking the rest of the boxwood's I discovered several branches just laying on the ground of one of the bushes. Now, how did that happen? I know I didn't cut them.

Saturday, my husband mowed our lawn, we had to borrow a friends mower which is an unfortunate thing you have to do when yours breaks down and ends up in the shop. The following day I noticed a clump of grass and thought that's interesting, it wasn't there when he finished mowing. So, in the process of investigating, the mysterious and similar hole appeared in the lawn. Once again, I leveled it out!

So Tiny
Today as I ventured to work I looked at the area where the clump of grass was. I took a closer look and low and behold, we have new residents residing with us. I guess I feel bad now, I made the poor mother move from one location to another just so she could make a home for her babies.

Now all I need to do is prevent this guy from making a treat out of the new guests that our making our yard their home.

Hunter....Our Family Dog