Emergency Assistance Center in Northfield Center needs help helping others

Jeff Saunders
Kent Weeklies
The Emergency Assistance Center in Northfield Center will be the beneficiary of much needed help from the sixth-annual Fill the Bus Campaign in October. Nordonia Hills and Twinsburg schools, along with area businesses and organizations are taking part. Pictured are EAC Executive Director Joyce Hunt, left, and Karen Byers, president of the Building Boosters of Nordonia Hills, which is hosting the food drive with Nordonia High School PTSA.

NORTH SUMMIT COUNTY –– When it comes to how the Emergency Assistance Center is doing these days, a lot can be seen in the numbers.

For example, in September, the food pantry in Northfield Center had 747 individuals relying on the help it provides, said EAC Executive Director Joyce Hunt.

“That was up 169 from the previous month of August,” said Hunt.

These clients come from 255 households and include 174 seniors and 271 children. This is up from 218 households, 157 seniors and 188 children served in August.

Here are some more numbers: Thanks to COVID-19, food drives have been virtually nonexistent, so these days the EAC is buying between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds of food from the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, supplemented with purchases from local grocery stores, said Hunt.

“Prior to COVID, if we got about 300 pounds every other week, that’s about what we were doing,” she said.

And Hunt said those grocery store purchases can only provide so much since many stores are limiting how much food can be bought at a time.

Also, the number of volunteers at the EAC is less than half of what it used to be, down from about 70 a few months ago to about 30 in early October.

But Hunt said she is heartened by a food drive in October, the sixth-annual Fill the Bus Campaign that the Nordonia Hills and Twinsburg school districts, along with several businesses and organizations, are taking part in. It is hosted by the The Nordonia Hills High School PTSA, along with Building Boosters of Nordonia Hills. The drive brought in 18,500 pounds of food in 2019 and this year’s goal is 20,000 pounds.

“It’s worked out each year and this year it’s really needed,” said Building Boosters President Karen Byers.

Donations of non-perishable food can be dropped off at bins at any school within either district until Oct. 30. Byers said she believes students will push for donations not only because they care but also out of school pride.

“They have that camaraderie and competition between buildings and that helps us,” she said.

Other locations where there will be bins include:

In Nordonia Hills, the Nordonia Ministerial Association; Drayer Physical Therapy in Macedonia, 746 East Aurora Road; The Goddard School in Macedonia, 2073 Alexandria Way; Kindercare in Macedonia, 926 East Aurora Road; and Nordonia Hills Branch of Akron Summit County Library, 9458 Olde Eight Road in Northfield Center.

In Twinsburg, Twinsburg Public Library, 10050 Ravenna Road; The Goddard School, 2608 Glenwood Drive; and the Twinsburg Ministerial Association.

Hunt said the effort is sorely needed. Since the state of emergency began in March, food drives such as those operated in the Nordonia Hills schools at the end of the year did not happen, along with drives sponsored by churches and businesses. When the Nordonia Hills Memorial Day Parade was canceled, so was a food drive planned there and the annual Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive was postponed in May and Hunt said she is now doubtful it will be rescheduled this year.

“I have never seen it like this, obviously, since I have been here,” said Hunt. “I’ve been here eight years and it’s never been like this.”

In addition, Hunt said that spike between August and September is expected to be just a harbinger of what is about to happen since November and December typically are the busiest two months of the year in terms of the number of people seeking help, even in the best of times.

“We’ve been able to sustain,” she said. “I’m just not sure how that’s going to be and that’s why we’re pretty hopeful and encouraged at least that the school system, both Twinsburg and Nordonia, are even willing to take a chance and do a food drive for us.”

Donors, however, don’t have to wait for a food drive since they can always take donations directly to the EAC at 9199 Olde Eight Road, across the street from St. Barnabas Church. Hunt said the EAC continues to operate on a “curbside model.” Clients are asked to make appointments by phone before they come in, as are people bringing larger donations to make sure enough volunteers can be on hand to unload the food.

It is also suggested that anyone coming to the EAC for any reason call from the parking lot when they arrive and not come inside.

Call the Emergency Assistance Center at 330-467-7945 or go to https://teacenter.org for more information. It is open Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and serves residents in Northfield Center, Macedonia, Northfield Village, Sagamore Hills, Twinsburg, Twinsburg Township, Reminderville, Hudson, Boston Heights, Peninsula and Richfield. 

The EAC is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and often updates what specific needs are in order to help donors decide best how to help.

“If they’re out shopping and think of that and want to pick things up, that is most helpful,” said Hunt.

Hunt said the EAC relies on local donations, whether food or financial, especially since it receives no government assistance.

“I’m grateful for all the community has done for us thus far for the Emergency Assistance Center to make sure we can continue serving people in our neighborhoods that need that extra help,” said Hunt.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.