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Sat, May 21

Project Fill the Need receives first grant for food pantry

From left: Jacqueline Vaughn, Lori Feine, Judy Kenney, Kathy Wozniak, Carol Brezina and Sharon Sweet.

From left: Jacqueline Vaughn, Lori Feine, Judy Kenney, Kathy Wozniak, Carol Brezina and Sharon Sweet.

One of 10 recipients of Christ Lutheran Church’s grants to local organizations, Project Fill the Need received its first donation from the Sedona church on March 22. A $3,250 check was presented to the food pantry by Pastor David Bandfass and several members of his congregation at the group’s facility in the Big Park Community School in the Village of Oak Creek.

The grant included $250 for equipment and $3,000 to purchase additional food for the pantry, which opened in September in a classroom that had previously been used for teaching science. The grants funds resulted from the church’s Hands Healing Hunger auction in February, chaired by Carol Brezina. The auction more than exceeded its goal of $50,000, raising over $65,000, and a California couple donated an additional $120,000 to support the church’s efforts to fight hunger in the Verde Valley region. This is the thirteenth year the church has held the auction for goods and services, which went online for the first time in 2022.

Project Fill the Need seeks to ensure that any underserved resident of the Verde Valley has access to quality food, and is open the last Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The group has focused on those living in the unincorporated communities of the Verde Valley that are not served by an existing food bank, including Rimrock, Cornville, Lake Montezuma, Beaver Creek, Page Springs and the Village of Oak Creek.

Residents of nearby towns and cities like Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and Sedona are also welcome to participate. There are no eligibility requirements or forms to fill out to receive food from the pantry—just a genuine need for food assistance. The pantry is set up like a typical grocery store, with clients able to “shop” for the food they want and need, including personal hygiene items and pet food. The food pantry is limited to providing non-perishable food at this time.

Hands Healing Hunger is part of what the Christ Lutheran Church describes as part of its mission. “Together we are doing what Jesus would have us do. Feed the hungry in the Verde Valley with our five loaves and two fish sticks.” Kathy Wozniak, president of Project Fill the Need, says that the grant will go a long way toward doing just that. “We are grateful to all the members of the community who have donated both money and food to our pantry, but there are certain items that are always in demand, such as shelf stable milk, that we must purchase directly ourselves. This grant will enable us to do so, and will provide the extra resources that our group needs as the number of clients we serve continues to grow.”

Christ Lutheran Church hopes to continue its support of Project Fill the Need’s food pantry and will be making a video of the services provided by the organization to show to the entire congregation and to post on its website.

For more information on Project Fill the Need, to donate or contribute food, please contact info@projectfilltheneed.org. The next food distribution will be on Saturday, April 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Big Park Community School, 25 Saddlehorn Drive in the Village of Oak Creek.

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