Newport food pantry drive begins

NEWPORT – Newport area businesses are teaming up with the Newport Food Pantry for an Easter drive to help raise food and awareness in the community.

“One of our goals is to raise awareness about what the pantry means to the community and the work we are doing,” said Joy Lutes, a volunteer with the Newport Food Pantry. It’s the first year for the pantry’s Easter drive.

Dave Riggs, the coordinator for the pantry, said he believes the event is going to be a wonderful asset to the organization.

“Joy (Lutes) came up with the idea of putting donation bins along with Easter baskets at different businesses,” he said. “This is the first time we have ever had an event like this, but I hope we will have more in the future.”

The Easter drive is being supported by local businesses who agreed to have Easter baskets and plastic tubs on site for people to place donations in.

“The organizations involved are Oopsa Daisy Florist, Newport IGA, Peoples Savings Bank, Newport Mini Market, Bj’s Pizza and Filling Station and King’s Barber Service,” said Lutes. “All of the businesses were very eager to help out and we are so thankful for their support.”

The owner of Oopsa Daisy Florist said she jumped at the opportunity to help support the Newport Food Pantry.

“We don’t have a lot of traffic in our shop, but I think it’s a good idea to support them any way we can,” said Sandra Binegar, owner of the shop. “There are a lot of families that won’t ask for the help that truly need it. Any little thing you can spare for them is a help.”

The Newport Food Pantry served about 150 families last year, according to Riggs.

The pantry serves those in the Newport area as well as parts of Lawrence Township, said Lutes. Riggs said he has noticed an increase in the need for the pantry resources during his time as coordinator.

“When we originally started the pantry, we were to be a supplement to food stamps,” said Riggs. “But with the increase in job loss, the need for food just keeps growing and growing.”

Lutes encourages people to support the Newport Food Pantry anyway they possibly can.

“We will accept food, monetary donations and toiletry items,” said Lutes. “People often forget that toiletry items are very necessary things that people use regularly.”

Riggs said the support community has shown so far this Easter drive should make a huge difference for the pantry and those who depend upon it.

“We really don’t have a budget. We just try to have enough food to pass out to those that need it,” he said. “Currently there is a great need for it and this is a great help to our organization.”

This drive started in mid-January and will be continuing until sometime around March 31, according to Riggs. Anyone interested in making a donation can do so at one of the participating businesses.