As turkey sales reach their peak and Christmas decorations begin to light up local townships and cities, only one task is on the minds of the local volunteers at Green Good Neighbors: Helping the poor.
Between organizing donations such as food, clothing and household items every Wednesday morning, the retirees working for Green Good Neighbors are busy people, but it's all for a good cause.
"There are many reasons why we come to help others," co-chairman Dorothy Cormany said. "But (we) all feel that we get far more out of volunteering than we give."
Green Good Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that serves low income families in the southern Summit County area. Because of its name, many people wrongly assume that it only serves Green.
"We have a tough time with publicity because we're called Green Good Neighbors and we serve Summit County," volunteer Mike Trinko said. "Now, why would somebody in Manchester want to give to Green Good Neighbors? So we always have to fight that battle."
Green Good Neighbors helps many families during troubled times. Many of the families that come each Wednesday morning are working for minimum wage, are elderly or people who have health problems.
The services provided by the organization make a big difference in the lives of those they serve.
"It's helped not only with food, but with clothing and bedding," client Sarah Workman said. "Last year at this time, I was homeless but this has been a major support system. They never turn anybody away. If you're here, they'll take care of you."
Just like many of the clients that come in, Sarah and her husband are trying to support their family. Each Wednesday, Green Good Neighbors serves between 50 and 60 families just like theirs. And the numbers are frequently increasing.
"It seems like every week we get more and more families" volunteer Marilou Beining said.
Most of the volunteers are retirees who decide that it is time to give back to the community. Each volunteer is assigned a specific task such as organizing the clothes, stacking and packaging food and setting up areas such as the gym, where they place miscellaneous items for the home.
The need for volunteers is always great.
"It's an hour, two hours, three hours, we'll take anybody for any amount of time," volunteer Susan Smith said. "If you have two hours, if you have one hour, come."
Many of the clients take items from the clothing sections, which offers a range of clothes for babies, children, men and woman. Beining works this section each Wednesday morning.
"Basically, we take things off the clothing rack that we bring from the back and sort them out according to sizes in here," Beining said of her work. "There are clients that come that are new and we explain to them where the sizes and items are and sometimes we help them get them."
Page 2 of 2 - For volunteer Todd Wendling, his task revolves around the donated food that comes in for Green Good Neighbors.
"I come here early in the mornings and help set up the gym" Wendling said. "I'm usually here at like 6:30 in the morning to 1 p.m."
The volunteers must also take everything down at the end of the day.
"This takes a lot of people, we need volunteers" Wendling said.
Thankfully, Green Good Neighbors always has food for the clients, but children's clothes are sometimes a problem. They are frequently critically low on items such as boys' clothes, diapers, baby food and formula.
"Sometimes we have no formula and no baby food" Carmeny said. "Children's clothes are critical, we never have those."
For Christmas, Green Good Neighbors has several special service events. On Dec. 10, volunteers will be giving individually wrapped $25 gifts to each child along with other items selected by the parents. They will also be giving a gift card to each family for meat and other food items that the parents can purchase.
To donate to Green Good Neighbors, items such as food, clothing, furniture, and other home necessities can be dropped off at Greensburg Methodist Church, 2161 Greensburg Road, North Canton 44720, on any Wednesday morning. Food chairman Al Leidtke can schedule donation times during the week. He can be reached at 330-328-3080.
Those wishing to volunteer can arrive any Wednesday morning between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Greensburg Methodist Church.