Emergency Clearinghouse Association feeds more than the hungry

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Emergency Clearinghouse staff from left-to-right Mary Kay Wood, Michael Wagner, and Linda England are just a few of the friendly faces changing lives each and every day at the PICCA-based facility.

Monday through Friday on 469 E. Ohio Street, Mary Kay Wood, Michael  Wagner, Linda England, Mary Easter, and their dedicated team can be found providing nourishment for the masses.

The Emergency Clearinghouse Association firmly planted its roots in Pickaway County in the middle of 1981. The organization helped with many things such as rent assistance, food, utilities, transportation, and overnight lodging. At that time there were few places to go for individuals and families in need, so very quickly people began coming to the Emergency Clearinghouse for help.

Around 2005 the group shifted its focus away from most of the aforementioned supplemental supports to strictly focus on food – a central focal point in the lives of every family in the good times and bad.

When clients arrive at the Emergency Clearinghouse, they are given a clipboard in a staging area to fill out some documentation after furnishing a mandated state issued i.d. or utility bill with their address on it (i.d. only necessary for the homeless).

At that point, one by one they are assisted back into the pantry area where they are given the essentials – 12 eggs, l lb margarine, a package of cheese, soap, toiletries – in addition to an array of protein, grains, fruit and other supplies necessary for meal creation. Each household receives a  five day supply of food and can visit once per month. The organization is compliant with all USDA regulations in maintaining their food inventory.

In the month of August 2018 alone, the organization served 552 households, totaling 1,628 clients and 24,420 meals.

While these numbers reflect current trends at the food pantry, it was the story of one past Emergency Clearinghouse patron that particularly stood out to volunteer Linda England which came full circle in recent memory.

“A lady called us recently and said she would like to come in and volunteer,” said England. “When she came in she told our executive director (Mary Easter) ‘I know you do not remember me, but about 10 years ago I was going through a divorce and came in and you helped me and I have the time and I want to give back and volunteer.'”

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Linda England and Mary Kay Wood walk United Way of Pickaway County (UWPC) trustees Nathan Anderson, Jama Cobb, Stacy Young and the rest of the board through recent updates at the Emergency Clearinghouse at the September UWPC board meeting. 

For Mary, Mary Kay, Linda, Michael and their selfless army of volunteers, this is just one of many success stories that has come full circle.

The Emergency Clearinghouse continues to be a beacon of hope for many in Pickaway County each and every day. Through the generous contributions of the local faith based community and businesses, individual donors, canned food drives, strategic planning in the form of exhaustive price shopping, and caring volunteers, the organization offers much more than just food assistance through their “people first” mentality.

The Emergency Clearinghouse Food Pantry is a Safety Net program partner proudly supported by the United Way of Pickaway County. The pantry is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-4 p.m. and Thursday 1-6:30 p.m. and will be closed the week of October 15th for the Circleville Pumpkin Show.

To volunteer, donate canned goods and supplies, or support the pantry contact United Way board trustee and Emergency Clearinghouse United Way board liaison Kelsey Kohler at kkohler13@gmail.com or contact the organization directly at (740) 477-1655 ext. 263.

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