The Community Compassion Network’s annual benefit dinner raised $4,250 through donations and a silent auction – enough to fund the operation of the food pantry for an entire week.
According to Interim Director of CCN Faye Schaeffer, it costs $3,000 per week to keep the food pantry operational. Through donations and volunteers, the pantry is able to remain open and services about 800 families per week. CCN’s benefit dinner, held Saturday night at the Comfort Inn and Suite Conference Center in Mount Pleasant, is one of many fundraisers hosted throughout the year to help keep CCN on its feet.
“We need the support,” said Carole Ford, a pantry manager at CCN. “We desperately need this food pantry in Isabella County. We need to take care of our neighborhood.”
CCN was founded in 2005 and has since partnered with local businesses, churches, Central Michigan University student groups and other local organizations to provide supplemental food for needy Isabella County families. CCN purchases food from the Greater Lansing Food Bank at discounted rates in order to make this possible.
According to statistics provided by CCN, in 2012, it required approximately 5.3 million pounds of food to feed the impoverished in Isabella County. In 2013, CCN purchased 785,002 pounds of food for $76,060.26. Had that food been bought at a national wholesaler, the cost would have been more than $1 million.
“The point of this fundraiser is to show the community just how real the need is here in Isabella County,” said KC VanNuck, CCN chair. “We just need to let people know we’re here and let them know how far we can stretch even just a $1 donation.”
VanNuck said the centerpieces at the tables, which were food items bought at the food bank with cost comparisons between the food bank’s and a local wholesaler’s prices, were another reminder of what a difference a small donation can make.
Even if a monetary donation isn’t a possibility, VanNuck encourages members of the community to donate their time to the pantry.
“Sometimes if you don’t see the struggle, you don’t realize people out there need help,” she said. “We always, always need volunteers, and that’s just one way you can see firsthand the need in our community.”
Ford, who is this year’s recipient of the Sue Wroblewski Volunteer of the Year Award – an award in honor of CCN’s co-founder – said volunteers have nothing to lose by donating time at the pantry.
“If you’ve never served, volunteered or otherwise given of yourself, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest blessings,” she said. “I do this not for the award or for the recognition, but because this is my passion. My heart is in this, and if you come down to CCN, you’ll see it, too.”
The CCN is located at 2420 E. Broomfield Road and can be reached by telephone at 989-317-0993.