As part of its company philosophy of giving back to the community, Larosa’s of Hillsboro presented a check for $8,700 Monday to Samaritan Outreach Services in a ceremony held at the LaRosa’s location on Harry Sauner Road in Hillsboro.
Former Marine Tim O’Hara and his wife Tracy, who own and operate the LaRosa’s in Hillsboro, said the donation shows the importance LaRosa’s places on community engagement with schools, businesses, local events and more importantly, neighbors in need.
“Buddy LaRosa, when he started out, was really big into giving back to football, sports programs and youth, which he especially had a heart for,” Tim O’Hara said. “The funds that we gave to Samaritan Outreach came from the Buddy Cards, where you spend 10 bucks and half of it goes to charity.”
Buddy Cards were preceded roughly 10 years ago by the Feed Our Neighbors in Need program, he said, with the pizzerias selling candy canes during the holidays for $1, which in turn was given to a neighborhood food pantry.
He said that more than 19,000 Buddy Cards were mailed out free to the Hillsboro/Highland County community, and through the support and generosity of its patrons, $,was given to the local food pantry Monday.
Wade Hamilton, director of Samaritan Outreach, said that Monday’s donation would go a long way to helping the non-profit achieve its mission of operating a full-choice food pantry.
“We’re a small non-profit based here in Hillsboro, and we’re the Freestore Foodbank’s largest partner agency outside of downtown Cincinnati,” Hamilton said. “That being said, we serve about 40,000 pounds of food a month.”
The latest statistics from the department of labor show a booming economy with the lowest jobless figures in 50 years and nearly one million more jobs than workers to fill them. But despite those numbers, Hamilton said there is still a big need for what his organization does in Highland County.
“In communities like ours, there are a lot of senior citizens that rely on the services that we provide,” Hamilton said. “Our numbers have come down significantly over the last eight years by 35 to 40 percent, but a lot of the people that we see are seniors trying to make ends meet on Social Security, so we’re trying to make sure they don’t have to choose between medicine or rent and buying food.”
Two other groups he said the organization reaches out to are grandparents raising their grandchildren and families trying to make ends meet due to working part-time jobs, where they are “trying to raise a small family on two jobs paying $8 an hour, and that’s where we come in and try to fill those gaps while they try to pay their bills.”
Samaritan Outreach purchases much of the food it provides, which Hamilton said is why Monday’s donation from LaRosa’s was so important.
“We work with the Freestore Foodback, and although the word ‘free’ is in their name, it doesn’t mean we get the food for free,” he said. “The Freestore and Feed America says the cost of one meal is between 10 to 12 cents, so if you do the math, that’s 72,500 meals that we can provide courtesy of what LaRosa’s has done for us today. That’s a lot of food.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.