During the Holidays, we all think of family and community and helping those we care for most. That could be a family member under your own roof or someone across town who simply needs a little holiday support. This year, those that have seen holiday giving in abundance include Becca Kedley and Maribel Torres from the Clarke Community Schools Food Pantry. With all of the challenges facing the community, from water conservation needs to those who face food and basic supply needs on a daily basis, the generosity of local businesses and caring citizens has been heartwarming.
Normally, the Clarke Schools Food Pantry hours fall on Monday’s from 4:00pm to 5:00pm, but due to both Christmas and New Year’s Day being on Monday’s this year, the district decided to add Thursday, December 21st from 4:00pm to 5:00pm to the schedule. With the school, students, and staff at Clarke on break through the first week of January staffing the food pantry became a challenge. By adding the extra day before Christmas, families across the community utilize the pantry to get items necessary to make their holidays brighter.
“The generosity from our community has been on overdrive,” said Clarke’s Superintendent, Kurt DeVore. “Donations from local businesses and organization have enabled us to offer even more to families this season.”
Some significant dates for families interested in utilizing the Clarke Schools Food Pantry include:
- Normal Pantry Hours: Mondays from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
- Monday, December 18th, Clarke FFA will be serving hot meals for pantry clients between 4:00pm and 5:00pm. This is made possible through the “Ignite the Spirit” program provided by the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation. Cactus Farms will also be present giving away pork loins to those interested.
- Thursday, December 21st, additional pantry hours from 4:00pm to 5:00pm as well as packaged Christmas meals from the Clarke student and teacher food drive held over the past few weeks.
- The pantry will be closed Monday December 25th and Monday January 1st, reopening for normal hours on Monday, January 8th, 2024.
More than food and holiday meals, the Clarke Schools Food Pantry also has collections of basic necessities, including diapers, wipes, baby lotion and shampoo, laundry detergent and more for families who may need them. Organizations like Walmart and others have donated bulk gallons of water for families to take, helping with local water conservation efforts.
Some of the local businesses and organizations who have generously helped with these meals and supplies include:
- Food Bank of Iowa
- Clarke County Hospital
- Osceola Foods
- Pastor Amy Johnson and Osceola Methodist Church
- The TTT Groups
- First Interstate Bank
- Iowa Select Farms
- Timber Ridge
- LifePoint Church
- Clarke Public Health Department
- Clarke Crisis Intervention and Advocacy
- Homeless Prevention Coalition
- AEA Green Hills
Community and private donations have also benefited the pantry in a number of ways. One example of that support would be Pat Sullivan from Des Moines who provided furniture, kitchen supplies, baby cribs and more to the pantry and continues to offer all he can through his organization and connection across the state.
“On top of our regular pantry hours, our volunteers are helping support Toys for Christmas with gift wrapping and giving off presents next week,” said Maribel Torres.
Over recent months, the number of families utilizing the Clarke Schools Food Pantry has swelled to more than 100 each week. This includes Clarke student families as well as Clarke County families and children outside the district. Over the Thanksgiving holidays, more than 150 fully packaged Thanksgiving meals were given away and pantry volunteers spent extra hours making sure everyone who needed a meal was able to get one.
“Our hope is that the support we’ve seen over the last few months continues beyond the holidays,” said DeVore. “It’s easy to remember to give during this time of year, but many families need help year around.”
The Clarke Schools Food Pantry is located in the east side of the Clarke Community Schools Administration building at 802 N Jackson Street, Osceola, Iowa 50213.