Bountiful Blessings Pantry Goes Big – Always!
As I drove down windy little streets, past Norwood and Ivorydale, an icy mixture of rain and snow pelted down. My wipers swooshed ferociously across the windshield and I squinted through the downpour praying that I was headed in the right direction. I heaved a sigh of relief as suddenly, out of nowhere, a cheerful orange sign appeared ahead of me with the words, “Milk Madness”. As I parked, I saw crates of milk stacked in the middle of the street and make-shift tents erected all around. Volunteers sporting brightly colored ponchos were everywhere and no one seemed to care one bit about the rain. Grabbing my rain jacket I hurried across the street and into Highland Avenue Baptist Church. As I made my way down to the basement I heard happy voices. Donna Covert, the director of Bountiful Blessings Pantry stepped forward to greet me, a welcoming smile in her eyes.
That rainy Saturday morning, Bountiful Blessings successfully distributed over 6,000 gallons of milk to the community. “Donna is an absolute rock star!” says Jessie Fossenkemper, Community Partnership Manager at the Freestore Foodbank. “She always goes big. I am constantly amazed at what she manages to accomplish. All I can say is thank you and you are amazing!”
Bountiful Blessings is a relatively new pantry. They opened on Fathers’ Day in 2017 when they decided to hand out a few donated loaves of bread to the community. They packed 14 trays of bread and other goods into a minivan and set up tables in front of their church. They were greeted with immediate success as neighbors walking up and down the street thankfully accepted the bread, muffins and donuts. Encouraged by the response and sensing a greater need in the community, they started to gather more locally donated food. Soon they were giving away as many as 40 trays of bread along with other baked items. “I felt that it would be nice if we could offer more than bread,” recalls Donna. “I remember telling my family it would be nothing short of wonderful if we could offer some fresh fruits and veggies!”
A few weeks later, after lots of research and help from neighboring pantries, Donna and her team began to offer a few additional items. However, they hit a wall in their operations when one of their suppliers shut down without notice for a holiday. That was when Donna decided it was time to call the Freestore Foodbank, ”Holiday or no holiday people needed to eat and I knew it was time for me to take action.” In July 2018 Bountiful Blessings became an official partner agency to the Freestore Foodbank. “We have enjoyed this partnership and the Freetore Foodbank has been extremely helpful in getting us products and the quantities we need.”
In spite of being a new partner, Bountiful Blessings has emerged as one of the Freestore Foodbank’s most successful partners distributing more than 380,000 lbs. of food already. They recently started renting a box truck from Mike Albert Leasing to pick up 100 trays of bread on a weekly basis. That along with the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and milk provided by the Freestore Foodbank has served them well. Today the pantry employs over 20-30 volunteers and helps feed 250 families weekly.
The Freestore Foodbank is proud to partner with Highland Avenue Baptist Church. We welcome the opportunity to serve the community with their support.