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Dems in area help to refill food bank

Democrats donated food to fill the Second Harvest Food Bank. Photo by Sean Barron

NILES — Like most people who shop, Ruth King’s intent was to pay for the merchandise and drive home, but activity in a nearby parking lot changed her course and direction.

“I just like to help out if I can,” the Niles woman said.

She did so by donating merchandise she had bought at a discount store to Saturday’s food drive in the Pinetree Plaza off U.S. Route 422. Her donations included spaghetti, paper towels and spaghetti sauce.

Local and regional Democrats were on hand to accept food and monetary donations during the four-hour gathering, which was to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley in Youngstown.

The food dropoff was essential largely because the food bank is running low on donations as people’s need for food increases, something that has been exacerbated the last few months by the health crisis, noted Karen Zehr, the Trumbull County Democratic Party’s secretary.

“This area was struggling before the pandemic happened; then more people were being out of jobs or having reduced hours,” she observed. “The need is great if you look at the statistics in this area.”

People were encouraged to stay in their vehicles and have food drive participants take their bags of items.

Among those happy to do so was Tony Stratis, president of the 82-member Mahoning County Young Democrats organization, the event’s co-sponsor.

His primary goals consisted of collecting as many donations as possible and assisting those who have been impacted and hard hit by the coronavirus, he said.

“Compassion and empathy are missing in politics,” Stratis observed. “Politics is all about public service. We care not only about the candidates, but about our community.”

Echoing a similar view was Thomas Summers, the Trumbull County Young Democrats organization’s president.

“I’m inspired to help the community that’s in a terrible state. We know a lot of people who are struggling.”

Even though no one in his immediate family is suffering the effects of the health crisis, he had seen enough anecdotal information online to motivate him to want to be part of Saturday’s effort, Summers states.

Those still wishing to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank are asked to go to its homepage, https://mahoningvalleysec ondharvest.org., then click on the “donate” link at the top. People also can dedicate a donation with the tag line “giving back with Mahoning Valley Democrats.”

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