PORTSMOUTH — The St. Francis Outreach Center of Portsmouth, in cooperation with the Scioto Catholic family of four Catholic Parishes in the Diocese of Columbus, far exceeded their expectations for Wednesday’s COVID-19 call-in cocktail hour with Father Joe Yokum, Father Christopher Tuttle, Barb McKenzie and Nancy Enzie.
The cocktail hour call-in show which aired on Facebook was Yokum’s idea to generate funds for the St. Francis Outreach Center’s food pantry for families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
McKenzie, the Director of Catholic Social Services at St. Francis Outreach Center, told the Daily Times that they would have been satisfied with a few thousand dollars in donations to help benefit those in need in the Portsmouth and Scioto County area.
To her and those involved with the St. Francis Outreach Center’s surprise, the call-in show generated over $25,000 worth of donations — in the one hour show — to help supply their food pantry which was completely out of food just hours prior.
“Our expectations were that if we raised a couple of thousand dollars, we thought it would be very good,” McKenzie said. “And we raised over $25,000 for just one hour.”
During the past month, 855,197 Ohioans have filed for unemployment (as of April 16) as a result of job loss during the ongoing pandemic and temporary closure of many businesses.
“With so many people’s places of employment closing due to the pandemic that has put a burden on a lot of families, with their children being out of school,” McKenzie said. “With the children in school, you know they’re getting breakfast and lunch through the school. Now a lot of those parents aren’t working and the children are at home.”
While the St. Francis Outreach Center typically provides meals for 400 families a month, McKenzie stated that since the pandemic and closure of businesses began around the middle of March, they are providing more meals and more food to families in need than ever before.
“We have seen our numbers at our food pantries just spiral out of control,” McKenzie said. “Where we were serving 400 or more families a month with food, we are now serving between 500-600 with food.”
Clare’s Closet, a clothing and household items store ran by the same Catholic-based services which operate the St. Francis Outreach Center, was one of the main sources of generating income for their food pantry and has since been closed during the pandemic, cutting of the food pantry’s most immediate source of funding.
“That is what helped us provide money for us to purchase food, that is closed because of the pandemic so we’re not having that funding coming in,” McKenzie said. “We needed to find an extra way to get some money to be able to purchase food. Another problem we’re running into is trying to get food. We primarily get our food through the free store food bank, it’s not free, but it’s at a reduced cost to us. The free store food bank, with the hits the trucking industry is taking, is having a hard time getting food brought in.”
The generosity of the Scioto County and Catholic communities was certainly felt by McKenzie and her staff in a time when their work and their ability to provide for those in need is necessary, more so than ever before.
“We just wanted to tell all the people in the community who supported us how greatly we appreciate them,” McKenzie said. “We are so blessed that they were so willing to give to help us, to help meet the needs of those in our community. Our blessings go out to them.”
Scioto Catholic and the St. Francis Outreach Center have made it easier than ever before to donate to help feed those in need in Scioto County, visit https://www.sciotocatholic.org/stfranciscenter to find out how you can donate.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved