Some local 4-H kids saw smiles on the faces of the homeless they're trying to help with a food drive Saturday at area Sparkle Markets, even though the people had next to nothing.
"It made me feel grateful for what I have," Miranda Adams said.
A member of the Mahoning County Winners Circle 4-H Club comprised of students from South Range, Springfield and West Branch, she and fellow 4-Hers from Mahoning and Columbiana counties will join forces to help the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley by collecting non-perishable food items.
From left, Raelyn Kish, mission ambassador for Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, and area 4-H members and South Range students Olyvia Carr and Reece Carr, both of Pine Lakers 4-H Club, and Kirklin Grahovac, Chris Grahovac, Miranda Adams and their advisor, Pat Adams, all of Mahoning County Winners Circle 4-H Club, gather at the Salem Sparkle Market to kick off a weeklong food drive for the Rescue Mission, which serves residents from all over, including Columbiana and Mahoning counties. Members of 4-H clubs from both counties will man barrels at area Sparkle Markets Saturday. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
"We're really proud that they were self-motivated because they initiated this whole food drive. The joyful part of
this, they had no idea the divine timing. The Rescue Mission needs this food very badly," Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley Mission Ambassador Raelyn Kish said.
The number of people being fed and sheltered at the Youngstown facility located on Martin Luther King Boulevard has increased 15 percent since last year. The number of people served last year with overnight stays was 36,439, with 11,767 people served meals, 505 who received food baskets and 7,936 who received clothing/household items.
The Rescue Mission serves about 300 free meals per day now, according to Kish. Last year the average was 276 free meals per day and 100 free beds provided. They have a capacity of 144 beds.
"We are the only emergency shelter in Mahoning County, but people come from all over," she said, including people from Columbiana County.
Kish said they had a young man from Salem who stayed at the Rescue Mission for a year in the Rescue Mission's longterm program.
"He was able to really get his life in order and make some tremendous changes. He's doing really well now," she said.
Pat Adams, Miranda's father, serves as advisor for the Mahoning County Winners Circle 4-H Club. He explained that every 4-H group is required to do community projects and the members of the Winners Circle decided to do a food drive for the Rescue Mission. They were originally planning to go to one Sparkle Market, the one in Columbiana, but the owners suggested they put barrells at all the Sparkle Market stores in the area.
With the added areas to cover, the nine members of the Winners Circle enlisted help from their counterparts in other 4-H clubs throughout Columbiana and Mahoning counties. Barrells to fill with non-perishable food items will be located at the Sparkle Markets in Salem, Lisbon, Columbiana, East Palestine, New Middletown, Cornersburg, Boardman and Youngstown.
"I hope to see stuff overflowing," Adams said.
Some members of the Winners Circle toured the Rescue Mission, met some of the residents and saw firsthand what the Rescue Mission does. When asked about the visit, Chris Grahovac said the people were nice. He thought it was sad because they have to live at the mission. He said he has stuff that they don't have.
His older brother, Kirklin, relayed a lesson learned, noting, "Don't take things for granted - live with what you've got."
"Boy, did it put their lives in perspective," Adams said, adding that one of the kids he advises commented that "even though we're having a bad day, there's always somebody having a worse day."
Adams said there were families - mother, father and children - living at the Rescue Mission because they had lost everything.
He said the Rescue Mission helps the entire area, not just Youngstown. He said the food drive was for a cause that serves both Columbiana and Mahoning counties. The barrels will remain at the stores throughout the weekend to the middle of next week.
To learn more about Rescue Mission Mahoning Valley, visit the website at www.rescuemissionmv.org.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org