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West Toledo food pantry looking to expand into community center

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    Tana Fitzgerald, of Toledo, chooses from the wide array of bread at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry. Fitzgerald volunteers at times as well, but also uses the pantry to get food to support her father.

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    The building in which the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry is housed in Toledo.

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    Signs in the window at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry in Toledo on Friday, Dec. 29. The pantry's trailer that played a large role in their operations was recently stolen, limiting how much they can bring into the pantry.

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    From left: Jesse Torres, Terry Marsh and Wendy Dodge- McClure, all of Toledo, unload a truck of food at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Joshua Dietrich, 13, a volunteer of Sylvania, Ohio, reaches to grab more soup at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Jesse Torres, of Toledo, unloads food items at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Laurie Dietrich, left, and son Joshua Dietrich, 13, a volunteers of Sylvania, Ohio, restock the soups at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Laurie Dietrich, a volunteer of Sylvania, Ohio, rearranges items at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Bread at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Clothes at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Karen Michalski, of Toledo, selects soups and other items at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Terry Marsh, left, and Wendy Dodge-McClure, both of Toledo, unwrap the food items as they unload a truck at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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    Jesse Torres, of Toledo, left, is handed boxes of food from Terry Marsh, also of Toledo, to be brought in at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry.

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CTY-TRAILER29p-1

Signs in the window at the Toledo & Northwest Ohio Cornucopia food and clothing pantry in Toledo on Friday, Dec. 29. The pantry's trailer that played a large role in their operations was recently stolen, limiting how much they can bring into the pantry.

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A West Toledo food and clothing pantry is on the hunt for a new location.

The Toledo & NW Ohio Cornucopia center assists about 1,400 people each month with food, clothing, household items, and toiletries, but the women who run the nonprofit want it to be more than a pantry.

In the past year or so, Executive Director Laura Marsh and Community Outreach Coordinator Jan Burgard-Moore have listened as clients ask for help finding affordable housing, for more information on women’s health, and for support groups or seminars geared toward suicide prevention, addiction recovery, and the LGBTQ community.

The women envision Cornucopia growing into a neighborhood community center, with the pantry becoming one of many more resources offered to the community.

“We have people that come in every single day that we operate that tell us the different needs that they have,” Ms. Burgard-Moore said. “We want to work with a renewed mind.”

They have the willpower, the volunteers, and the interest, but they don’t have the right location, Ms. Burgard-Moore said.

Cornucopia currently operates out of the back of Childers 419 Deals at 3174 Bellevue Rd. The property’s owner, Charles Childers, has been allowing the organization to operate out of the unused space for free while he keeps his business in the front.

Mrs. Marsh and Ms. Burgard-Moore said they had an understanding with Mr. Childers that he would sign over either partial or full ownership of his property to the nonprofit so they could renovate the space in the new year to create their dream community center.

Mr. Childers said he had “very preliminary discussion” with the group, but that nothing was ever agreed upon. He said he is happy to allow the organization to continue to operate out of his space but at this point did not intend to sign over any ownership.

Mrs. Marsh said Cornucopia will continue running its food and clothing pantry the way it has been at the Bellevue Road location, but they’ll also begin looking for a new home. She is hopeful someone will either donate a space that they can renovate or allow them to operate at a location already equipped to meet their needs.

Ms. Burgard-Moore said she would like to create a center with a food pantry; storage for donations of clothing, hygiene products, and household items they’d distribute as-needed; meeting rooms for educational sessions and support groups; and a community room for events.

The two are hopeful the organization will be able to expand. They saw firsthand this holiday season how giving the community is, they said. 

Just before Thanksgiving, the trailer they use every week to pick up donations from the Seagate Food Bank to distribute to their clients was stolen. They’ve relied on volunteers and loaned pickup trucks to get by, but a Petersburg, Michigan, couple wanted to do more. 

They donated $1,500 so the nonprofit could purchase a new, upgraded version with a loading ramp.

“The community response was just phenomenal,” Mrs. Marsh said. “We received phone calls upon phone calls of people wanting to donate their trailers and their time to help us out.”

To learn more about Toledo & NW Ohio Cornucopia or to volunteer or donate, call 419-283-2467 or search for the organization on Facebook.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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