When the New Life Church and Ministries food and clothing ministries shut down in December not long after the untimely passing of Linda Bowman, their co-founder, Chuck Aurigema and the Area 937 Community Outreach decided it was time for them to step up.
“What they did out there was amazing. It’s going to be missed, for now,” said Aurigema, the Area 937 president and executive director. “We have to get the word out to folks that we’re accepting new clients. I know (New Life) filled 70 to 80 vehicles each Friday, so there are folks out there that need a place and we’re trying to get the word out there that we want to help.”
Starting about March 1, Aurigema said Area 937 would like take on another two dozen or so families on top of the 60 to 80 it currently serves once a month.
Opened in May of 2009 as a ministry of the Hillsboro Church of Christ, Area 937 went independent of the church in June of last year. It currently has about 55 families that volunteer to staff its food and clothing ministries, but could expand with more volunteers.
Anyone interested in volunteering, or looking for assistance, can visit the Area 937 website at www.area937.org.
“Oh yes, we can use more volunteers. That’s one reason we’re putting signs up around the area,” Aurigema said. “We want to get the community involved.”
Four local businesses are in the process of setting up locations where non-perishable food items can be donated to the ministry. They are Gibbs Insurance Associates, Merle Norman Cosmetics and People Bank in Hillsboro, and Chuck Wait Tire in Mowrystown. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off during normal business hours, but clothing is not currently being accepted because Area 937 has enough to serve it clients.
There is also a place on the website where anyone wanting to help can sign up to donate $20 a month to help finance the programs.
Area 937 has a 4,500-square-foot warehouse located at 8387 S.R. 73, just north of Hillsboro, where it serves its clients three nights a week — the second Thursday and second and third Saturday of each month.
Clients visit once a month. Currently, a small family receives about 50 items each month. Aurigema said that takes care of them for about a week, or maybe a little longer. But he said he’d like to increase what each family receives, and already has to some extent, thanks to more than 2,500 non-perishable items Area 937 received late last year from the Hillsboro Elementary School.
“The whole idea is to have a free choice food pantry, where they can take the things they know they can use,” Aurigema said.
The clothing ministry is much the same, with clients able to walk in the warehouse and shop for clothes arranged on racks. The food is stacked on shelves.
Those interested in assistance can go to the website and fill out a form. They will receive a return call to set up an appointment to come in and fill out paperwork. Standard Ohio poverty level income guidelines apply, but Aurigema said they are not set in stone.
“If people come and are having a hard time, we’re not going to hold them back,” he said.
Once a family is accepted into the program, they will be assigned a time slot to come in each month. Aurigema said families come in one at a time for health and other reasons.
“The whole purpose is to let people know that we have openings,” Aurigema said. “And the more people we can get to help with volunteering, the more people we can serve.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.