CASTINE — Brown paper bags weighed down a shelf near the entrance of Sutton’s Foods. The bags were laden with sugar, flour, salt, brown sugar, and other items necessary for baking during the holidays. Three carts next to the shelf held a dozen orange fabric bags filled with a variety of food. All were earmarked for the Castine Food Bank.
It is the latter that brings us to the Castine Church on U.S. 127, where Diana McDonald, a director of the food bank, was waiting for an individual in need to arrive.
“We help three times, a year-long, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas,” explained McDonald, who had spent some time looking back through records to determine when the food bank started.
According to her notes, it was over thirty years ago that the Castine Food Bank helped three area families over the holiday.
“It was threes,” said McDonald of that first year as they not only started with three supporting churches for three area families but had $300 in the treasury. A significant change considering this year they will help over a hundred families in the Arcanum, Franklin Monroe, and Tri-Village school districts, as well as Sherwood Forest Trailer Park, and parts of northern Preble County. All in thanks to the support from ten area churches, the Girl and Boy Scouts, community holiday bell ringing, area schools and businesses, and even a $10,000 donation from Whirlpool Corporation.
“It is something to think about — we’re just a little rural foodbank,” continued McDonald. “It’s amazing how much we have grown since we started.”
Along with the food bank’s history, there was a blue notebook full of typed instructions. When first getting underway, the food bank utilized a set of instructions or guidelines from a Preble County food bank, Fish, and Shared Harvest to develop their own. McDonald keeps the instructions handy as it helps volunteers pack food and nonperishable items according to the number of individuals in the family.
Along with packing three days’ worth of food that includes fresh foods and meats, the food bank provides taxable items near Christmas, such as laundry soap, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper. They also provide Bibles, including unique, specialized editions for youth and teens.
After three decades of serving as a director for the food bank, McDonald doesn’t see it as work.
“I was called, literally called. When I got started, I just went all in,” said McDonald, who wanted to give special thanks to the New Madison grocery store and Sutton’s Foods for their assistance. “They’ve been a tremendous help to this food bank over the years.”
McDonald explained how church volunteers arrived at Sutton’s Foods, packed the items, with the store leaving space at the front for those in need to make an easy pickup. While the New Madison grocery store delivered their order, and unloaded it, so the older volunteers did not need to pick it up and transport it to the food bank.
“They are both just wonderful,” continued McDonald. “They have been a blessing to this food bank.”
McDonald did express a need for volunteers, for those interested, contact the Castine Church at (937) 678-9945. McDonald can also be reached at (937) 996-8763.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.