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If an Aurora resident finds himself or herself in need, there are many agencies ready to step in to offer a hand.
Food 2 Share
Food 2 Share's goal is to keep the food pantries stocked for those in need -- even during periods where donations are slow, said Bruce Harris, the executive director for Food 2 Share.
"If you are a food pantry, there are two times you will run out of food," Harris said. "Summer is the worst time. School is out. Families go out of town, people travel. But the number of people needing food is the same."
The way Food 2 Share works to combat this summer sustenance slump is through its Fill a Bag, Feed a Family food collection, Harris said.
In late April, Food 2 Share distributed about 5,000 bags to area resident so they could fill them with nonperishable food and other necessities such as toilet paper, diapers and laundry soap.
The bags are left on the porches of the residents on a select day, where they are picked up and brought to a warehouse for sorting and storage, Harris said. The food is then distributed through the Volunteers of America's Aurora Food Pantry.
Last year, 22,000 pounds of food was collected. "That was the first time we did not run out of food during the summer," Harris said.
The second hard time is between January and April, according to Harris. Here, Food 2 Share turns to the area's business community for assistance.
"We work with 10 or 11 corporations in Aurora," Harris said. "They run internal food drives."
These businesses are asked to host the food drives during the lean winter and early spring months.
Foods often requested include beef stew, peanut butter, pasta and canned fruit, Harris said. But donations of nonfood items are welcome as well.
"People who are on food stamps can't use them on things like toilet paper, diapers or dish soap," he said. "You still need these things, especially if you have kids."
Harris said he would eventually like to see Food 2 Share spread throughout Portage County.
456 S. Chillicothe Road;
Any family finding itself wondering what to put on the table on Thanksgiving can have a meal with help from Hope Lutheran Church. The Rev. Powell Woods said the church partners with Volunteers of America to provide a full Thanksgiving meal to families who sign up through VOA.
"We pay for them from our church budget," Woods said. "We have 30 to 40 families come in for a meal, and they are given a turkey to take home."
For details on Volunteers of America, call 440-717-1500 or visit www.voago.org online.
Fall Leaf Raking
Contact: Patty Harrington, Senior Coordinator, Aurora Parks and Recreation, 330-995-9148
Last year, 12 civic groups, along with many individuals and families, came out in force to tackle fall raking for area senior citizens and others who need help.
Amy McDougald, who spearheaded this endeavor two years ago, called it a "citywide cooperative."
"We try to focus on seniors, particularly seniors who have trouble affording someone to do the work for them," she said. "It was my brainchild. I knew there was some leaf raking in the city, but I wanted to bring people together."
Last year, around 120 people raked the leaves for about 50 seniors, she said.
The first year "was such fun," McDougald said. The Rotary Club of Aurora provided food and a vehicle for transport. The second year, she said, was "even bigger and better."
"Aurora is such a great city," McDougald said. "If you ask for people to come out, they will."
McDougald said the next community leaf raking will probably be around late October or early November, as in the previous two years. The day will depend on other things going on during those months, plus the cooperation of Mother Nature, she added.
146 South Chillicothe Road; www.tcia.cc
Several area nonprofit groups have been the beneficiary from a sweet event hosted by the Women's Guild at the Church in Aurora.
The Nutcracker Sweets, usually scheduled for October, is an arts and crafts show that has been around for 35 years. Each year, artisans and crafters sell items ranging from jewelry and pottery to painting and photography.
"Some people come for the crafts, some people come for the food," said Muriel French, who organizes the event along with her husband Peter. "Our food is one of the highlights."
Food offerings include homemade pies and soups, as well as bakery items.
"New this year will be a chef who cooks gluten free," she said. "He will sell gluten free cupcakes and muffins."
From this event, 25 percent of the profits go to benefit an area charity, generally in Portage County.
From the 2015 event, the Women's Guild gave $2,250 each to the Center of Hope, a Portage County agency that provides hot meals to those in need of one, and the UH Hospice Program at the former Robinson Memorial Hospital.
This year, Nutcracker Sweets will raise funds for the Center of Hope and for Freedom House, which, according to information found at the Family and Community Services Inc. website fcsohio.org, is a shelter for homeless veterans.
Agencies that have benefited from the Nutcracker Sweets event in the past include Safer Futures, Habitat for Humanity, Miller Community House, HESS, Safe Path-Portage County, and Coleman Foundation's Center of Excellence for Children.
Because of the timing of the event, those attending the show can find items for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, French said.
A benefit for crafters is that the Women's Guild and the youth with the church will help with set up and tear down, she added.
In addition, volunteers with the church will take lunch to the crafters and even sit at the booth if an artisan needs to step away for a break.
Admission cost for the show is $6 for adults; children under 12 are free.
Aurora City Schools
Students in the Aurora schools learn more than reading, writing and 'rithmatic. The district also has several avenues for its pupils to give back to the community.
"We have multiple groups or organizations where students have the opportunity to participate in service," said Dr. Paul Milcetich, the principal at Aurora High School.
"We have a Service Learning class students are able to take for a semester and also clubs, such as NHS and Key Club, which involved students in service projects continuously throughout the year.
"This year, Service Learning volunteered time and did a collection for homeless shelters. NHS sponsored a Veterans' Day breakfast for community veterans at AHS and also ran the Aurora for Others fundraiser around the holidays.
"Key Club also participated in service events, such as the Rake and Run, and then also ran fundraisers to help worthy causes, most recently raising money for people in Flint, Mich."
The Veterans' Day event was launched this year, Milcetich said. The Aurora For Others program "has been present for a number of years and is a tradition."
"Service is valuable to our students as they are able to participate in a cause that benefits others and develop characteristics that will serve them their entire lives," Milcetich said.
"We are lucky to have resources in our community, but it important to have perspective on concerns in our nation and the global community.
"We talk about nurturing our students' roots while they are at AHS by providing them with a well rounded experience that provides opportunities to critically think, solve problems, communicate, collaborate, etc. which are typically associated with 21st Century skills.
"At the same time, it is equally important we create the opportunity for students to develop empathy and compassion, while sacrificing and providing service.
"This other part of our curriculum plays in important role in developing the "whole" students versus solely focusing on one area."
Harmon Middle School Principal Mark Abramovich said the school participates in numerous community activities. Highlights include Tech-Tuesdays, where students assist residents on how to use their technological devices; collecting clothes, toiletries and toys for two orphanages in El Salvador; hosting a bake sale to sponsor Honor Flight trips for veterans; nursing home visits; and planting pinwheels at the police station for child abuse awareness.
Abramovich said such activities "builds character, keeps kids humble and appreciative, teaches responsibility and how to interact with adults as they become one themselves."