A conversation between Deacon George Newton and Kris Knight has led to a collaborated effort to offer a drive-through food pantry opportunity in Defiance.
Newton, who serves as pastoral assistant at St. Mary Catholic Church in Defiance, was working with the Catholics on Campus group at Defiance College (DC) which is led by Knight, when the two discussed serving others during the pandemic.
That conversation led to a group of DC students volunteering to help run a drive-through food pantry Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at St. Mary’s, located at 715 Jefferson Ave.
“Deacon George and others from St. Mary’s have worked with the Catholics on Campus group, a small student organization here at Defiance College, in which students of all denominations get together to share fellowship and do service activities during the course of the year,” said Knight. “He and I were just brainstorming on how to engage with the students during COVID, and he proposed having an extra day of the food pantry to help families in need.
“He’s really the one who put it together, we’re just supplying the volunteers,” continued Knight. “We’ll have students man the food pantry, it’s going to be a drive-through food distribution, so families in need can drive up and our students will find out their needs. Students will relay that information to the students who are packing the food, before the food is taken to the cars. It’s a great way for our students to give back to the community.”
In addition to the student volunteers from DC, volunteers from the Catholic Food Pantry will be on hand to help Saturday. Newton explained the drive-through food pantry is a “one-off” event from regular hours of the food pantry, which are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Said Newton: “The Defiance College students will do the bulk of the work, but we will have a group of our regular volunteers here to show them how to do it. How it will work is that people will come in and be greeted by a student, who will then give that car a number. Another student will take the same number in to the people who will pack the order, before the order is taken back to the car to be safely loaded.”
“This is a nice partnership between the Catholics on Campus group and Catholics in the community,” said Becky Follett, who serves as coordinator of stewardship, evangelization and fundraising at St. Mary’s. “We’ve always had an involvement with Catholics on Campus, but it has fallen away in the last few years, so we’re working together to help build the group back up.”
Identification is not required to attend the drive-through food pantry event, which is open to all in need.
“Our students are looking forward to being a part of serving the community, this is the type of event our students gravitate toward the most,” said Knight. “I think it’s a great collaboration and we hope to do more in the future.”
To learn more about the Catholic Food Pantry, call 419-782-2776. To learn more about Catholics on Campus at DC, contact Knight at 419-783-2445.