AURORA — Fill a Bag, Feed a Family organizer and longtime Aurora resident Bruce Harris believes there is plenty to love about living in Aurora, but one characteristic about Aurorans is sometimes overlooked.

It is the compassion they have for their neighbors and other local residents who are in need of assistance.

On May 12, more than 250 individuals donated their time to help stock the Aurora Food Pantry for the summer. The pantry is managed by the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.

"Since nearly all food pantries run out of food in the summer, the efforts of the volunteers and the generosity of Aurora residents are critically needed," said Harris.

Food bags that were dropped off at all Aurora residences the prior week were picked up and transported to a McMaster Carr warehouse, where the items were inspected, sorted, weighed and stored.

That same day, the food was transferred to the MyTee Products warehouse, where it will be available when needed. In just one day, 70-plus volunteers processed more than 13,000 pounds of food.

Combining all of the food and donations collected May 12, including that collected by local Boy Scouts, will yield more than 19,000 pounds of food. That’s more than 8,500 meals that will help Aurorans in need this summer.

Fill a Bag, Feed a Family is a project run annually by volunteer leaders. This year’s chairmen were Bryn and Henk Stock. "With their guidance, and the leadership team, the drive exceeded expectations," said Harris.

"This was our first year leading the drive, and we were surrounded by team members who were highly skilled and devoted to the effort," said Bryn. "They deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the great results. This drive requires many leaders to achieve a high level of success. Our team this year was outstanding."

The leadership team consisted of  Liz Sutter, Chuck Marusic, Ann Marie and Lloyd Hagenbuch, Mary Skonieczny Justin Schenck, Steve Waisala, Carole Cole and Corrine Rosengarten. The last two are from the Aurora Food Pantry .

Special recognition goes to Mr. and Mrs. Dave Pavelic, who have generously supported the food drive for many years.

According to Harris, plans for the food drive begin in November and it relies on many businesses to donate many of the things needed to make it possible.

A special thanks goes to the following for their generous help: McMaster Carr, MyTee Products, Target, Graphics by Design, the Rotary Club of Aurora, Dunkin Donuts, Heinens, Costco, Walmart, Girl Scout Troop 90775, Pizza Hut and Mazzulo’s.

And special thanks also goes to Aurora City Council and Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin for their enthusiastic support.

Jeff Jackson, new manager of the Aurora Food Pantry, was overjoyed with the food drive results.

"When I saw hundreds of community members pitching in to help their neighbors who are in need of food, I knew immediately this community has a tremendous heart," he said. "I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

"It’s been an amazing weekend for us here at the Aurora Food Pantry. We are overwhelmed with the generosity of the community and the amazing amounts of donations that have come through. No doubt, this will help us through the summer months. We are so very thankful."

Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio Development Director Becky Carlino added:

"Since the start of the Food2Share / Fill a Bag, Feed a Family program, we’ve seen inside the heart of the community as it bands together to make sure that no person is hungry in Aurora.

"It’s a beautiful sight. We are truly thankful for every last person’s efforts to distribute, collect, sort, donate and give to keep the shelves stocked at the Aurora Food Pantry. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by such kind and generous neighbors, and we are so grateful for your help."

At Aurora City Council’s May 14 meeting, Councilwoman Amy McDougald said she visited the warehouse where the food was sorted and found it "overwhelming to see the volume of food coming in.

"I wish to thank all who donated food, dropped off and picked up bags and sorted the items," she added. "It made me proud to be a citizen of Aurora."

"With 2018’s Fill a Bag Feed a Family effort on the books, everyone will take a rest until November," said Harris.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com