By Jeff Gallatin
Westfield Great Northern is asking area residents to help the city of North Olmsted come back with seconds on needed food supplies and help those in need.
Mall and city officials Saturday kicked off a six-week food drive for the city’s Oxcart Food Pantry in the mall food court. Anybody who donated five items from the most-needed foodstuffs list received a free ticket for a series of family-oriented activities that ran for several hours Saturday afternoon. The food drive is an addition to $8,000 Westfield donated to the city following Superstorm Sandy last fall.
“We are happy to continue to show our support for the community and the Oxcart Food Pantry with this event,” said the mall’s general manager, Mike Walsh. “We invite our shoppers to come out, donate and have some fun with it, too.”
City officials said the assistance is much needed and appreciated.
“We are grateful for Westfield Great Northern’s support by organizing this food drive to help restock our pantry,” Chris Allegra, who administers the pantry for North Olmsted, said. “The holidays hit us hard, and we have been working over the past weeks to try and restock our shelves. We averaged 118 families per month in 2012, so we go through a great deal of food items and are always striving to stock healthy food alternatives that families can use to make meals.”
Allegra said the $8,000 donated by the mall shortly after Superstorm Sandy will be used to provide the city with supplies to help the city in case of a similar weather incident.
“That will assist the Oxcart Pantry in obtaining a backup generator and supplies to keep our facility open during a power outage such as we experienced during Sandy,” she said.
Allegra said other businesses continue to offer assistance as well.
“We are also grateful for the continued support of Giant Eagle at Water Tower Square,” she said. “They are enthusiastic partners with us and the mall, and have provided us food goods as well as bags used for packing at the Oxcart Pantry on a regular basis. It is great to have two corporate partners helping us meet our mission to serve those in need in our community.”
Officials said the most-needed food items for the pantry this season are nonperishable boxed meal kits, peanut butter and canned items such as tuna, chicken, pasta, stew, fruits and tomatoes.
Mall Marketing Director Annie Dorsey said Saturday’s event went well.
“We more than filled the bin with this single three-hour kickoff event, which means the food drive is off to a fantastic start,” she said. “We also took in $205 in cash donations from shoppers who happened onto the event and did not have canned goods in tow but wanted to support the effort and participate in the fun activities.”
A collection bin will be located in the mall dining court through March 30.