The season of giving

With community’s help, Sheffield Area Food Pantry opens at new location

The generosity of the Sheffield community has come alive at the Sheffield Area Food Pantry.

The food pantry committee and volunteers celebrated the opening of the new 18 Leather Street location recently with an open house.

The food pantry serves an average of 100 families of various sizes each month, according to Construction Coordinator Jack Cashmere, and is open for distribution from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday each month.

The building is expected to pull additional duties, including possibly hosting township supervisor meetings in the future, according to Supervisor John Labesky.

That’s only part of the generosity involved.

Historically, 18 Leather Street has offered many different goods and services to the Sheffield community — groceries, dancing at the Starlight Inn, auto parts, bait and tackle, and auctions.

Then, for years, it sat empty.

The Sheffield Area Ecumenical Food Pantry took possession of the property following a transfer in December 2014.

The effort to rehabilitate the building has been going on since.

“As township supervisors, we are responsible for the welfare of all of our residents,” Labesky said.

He had heard of the Neighborhood Assistance Program during a presentation and thought it would work for the food pantry.

He became the board’s grant writer.

Northwest Bank made a $25,000 Neighborhood Assistance Program grant. The Community Foundation of Warren County gave $15,000. Other individual and group donations added up more than $5,000.

The budget estimate was $87,000 and the group had $50,000 in grants and donations.

The final total came in under budget at $62,000.

“We completely gutted the inside of the building,” Cashmere said.

The rear wall was rebuilt to accommodate an overhead door. Inside and out, the building meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. There are four new chest freezers, two upright freezers, and a new fridge.

Many individuals and groups contributed their equipment, time, effort, money, and expertise to the final product.

From architecture to shelving and tables, an overhead door, painting, and pouring concrete to keeping Thanksgiving turkeys cold, there was no shortage of donations.

“This is what this community is all about,” Cashmere said. “Every time you turn around, somebody is offering to help. Our community really stepped up.”

“This is a good project,” Labesky said. “It turned out very well for us.”