Judy A. Totts | The Gazette
MEDINA â€” When the going gets tough, the tough get creative in fundraising efforts for The Salvation Army Medina Corpsâ€™ programs.
And as costs rise for school supplies needed for the corpsâ€™ Womenâ€™s Auxiliary Back-2-School program, so does the need for donations.
â€œWith job losses and the economy in general, people are struggling,â€ said Reagan Bednar, an auxiliary member from Medina.
The auxiliary had a bake sale Wednesday at Applebeeâ€™s in Medina Township in conjunction with the restaurantâ€™s Dining to Donate program, which gives 15 percent of meal purchases from patrons who present a flyer specific to the program on designated days to organizations in need.
From left, Lois Thomas of Brunswick Hills Township and Roy Gienke and his wife, Mar Gienke, of Medina, all volunteer cooks for Project MUNCH, prepare food Thursday at the Salvation Army Medina Corps location on West Liberty Street. (Judy A. Totts | Gazette)
â€œThis year we hope to do 200 backpacks filled with school supplies,â€ said Phyllis Galbraith, a member of the auxiliary from Medina, as she and others set out boxes of cupcakes and plates of double chocolate oatmeal cookies. â€œWe get a list of supplies from schools and go shopping.â€
Medina resident Kim Mencke, an auxiliary member who co-chairs the fundraisers, said they need to raise $2,000.
â€œUnited Way also will contribute to the program via their Pack the Bus campaign.â€ Mencke said.
For elementary students, the cost of one filled backpack is about $30.
â€œThe lists are very specific, and when we have to add in calculators for high school students â€” the calculators cost about $50 â€” the average goes up to about $100,â€ said Bednar, who chairs the Medina Corpsâ€™ Back-2-School program rally. The rally to distribute the backpacks will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Salvation Army, 425 W. Liberty St.
â€œLast year we provided 144 backpacks. Weâ€™re expecting over 200 backpacks will be needed this year,â€ Bednar said.
Capt. Sienna Jackson, who with her husband, Capt. Jonathan Jackson, serve the Salvation Army Medina Corps, said needs have increased as the amount of donations dropped. Year-to-date figures show the number of clients served by Project MUNCH, a meal program for people in need, increased by more than 2,500.
â€œMeals served are up 66 percent, and weâ€™re seeing more new individuals and families using Project MUNCH,â€ Sienna Jackson said, pointing out the cost per meal is up by almost 50 cents and year-to-date donations for the program are down by $1,245.
â€œRequests for social services have increased, and thereâ€™s a difference in clients. Weâ€™re seeing more families that are just making ends meet, people you donâ€™t expect to see, people who didnâ€™t think this could happen to them,â€ she said.
The unemployment rate for Medina County for April this year was 8.3 percent, up from 5.2 percent in April 2008, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohioâ€™s April 2009 unemployment rate was 10.2 percent. It was 6.2 percent in April 2008. The report cited a weakened labor market, with recurring losses in manufacturing and construction and additional losses in service-providing industries. On a national level, the unemployment rate for April was 8.9 percent, up from 8.5 percent in March.
â€œDonations are down, huge,â€ Sienna Jackson said, adding Salvation Army corps across Northeast Ohio are facing cutbacks. â€œIf you canâ€™t pay the rent, you canâ€™t donate to the Salvation Army.â€
The Medina Corps has cut staff positions to part time and pared spending.
â€œFor example, we typically spend about $1,000 per month on fresh produce and milk for MUNCH, and we arenâ€™t spending anything. Our volunteers have really come through with donations.â€
They also are coping with a cranky oven and uncooperative coffee machine used for Project MUNCH meals, necessitating a search for a new commercial oven and coffee maker. On Tuesday, volunteers couldnâ€™t finish roasting chicken for the meal and whipped up stew on the stovetop instead.
â€œI donâ€™t doubt this community at all,â€ Sienna Jackson said. â€œThey really step up to the plate. This is humbling, and challenging, but we know it will be taken care of.â€
As The Salvation Army Medina Corps copes with rising costs and dwindling donations, the group will continue to offer assistance to families and individuals in need:
— Family day camp. Day camp will be offered for children in families that will have difficulty with childcare costs once school is out for the summer. The program will cost $30 per child per week for six weeks, Monday through Friday, from June 22 through July 31.
— Back-2-School. Applications for the Back-2-School program will be taken from 5 to 7 p.m. July 6 and 8, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 9 at the Salvation Army, 425 W. Liberty St., Medina. The program is for residents of Medina, Cloverleaf and Buckeye school systems.
Applicants must supply a photo ID, proof of income and expenses, and a form of identification for each child, such as a Social Security card.
— Fundraisers for the Back-2-School program. A Just Jewelry sale and open house will be held June 9 at the Medina location on West Liberty Street. The Salvation Army Medina Corps Womenâ€™s Auxiliary also has sent letters requesting donations to local businesses, churches and other organizations.
â€œWeâ€™re also trying to get haircuts (for the students) donated by local salons, but itâ€™s too soon to have any response for our requests,â€ Bednar said.
For information on programs, call (330) 722-6488.
Contact Judy A. Totts at (330) 721-4063 or email@example.com.