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Kiwanis Club launches Diakonia food drive

By Greg Ellison

(May 28, 2020) The Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City are launching a weekly food drive to help stock the shelves at the Diakonia Emergency Food Pantry.

Kiwanis Club President Roy Foreman said the initial food drive for non-perishable goods was held this Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Ocean Pines Community Center parking lot outside the Assateague Room.

“It’s a pretty contactless way of having a food drive,” he said. “It allows people just to drive up with what they want to donate.”

Foreman said the effort would continue each Wednesday in the same location through June 17.

“It’s going to be about two hours every Wednesday for the next four weeks,” he said. “If the food drive is really successful, as we hope it will be, we might continue it on into the summer.”

Kiwanis Public Relations Press Chairman D.J. Landis Sr. credited his cohort with envisioning a charitable endeavor that could be undertaken while adhering to health-safety guidelines.

“We’ve been inactive during this whole coronavirus thing,” he said. “Roy Foreman came up with the idea because we haven’t been able to do any projects … or hold any fundraisers.”

Diakonia Executive Director Bee Miller said the Kiwanis Club collection drive serves a vital need, which has heightened during the covid-19 pandemic.

“We serve over 3,000 families per month,” she said. “Donations for our food pantry are critical.”

Miller said as monetary woes abound for residents who have found themselves unexpectedly unemployed, food assistance can help free up limited resources.

“Help for today [and] hope for tomorrow,” she said.

Landis said with the state’s covid-19 restrictions having limited Kiwanis Club meetings to a virtual format, the Diakonia-focused food drive provides an avenue to continue helping the community.

“It just seemed like a good thing to do to be proactive to help the community out, which is basically what we like to do anyhow,” he said.

Landis said the new campaign to collect non-perishable food items for Diakonia piggybacks on an April in-house effort to garner groceries.

“We said open it up to the public too , left, and let’s see what happens because we can collect non-perishables and try to help resupply Diakonia,” he said.

Foreman said for the next three weeks at least, facemask-clad Kiwanis Club members will be at the parking lot at the Community Center on Wednesdays beginning at 10 a.m. to collect donations. Those items will be loaded into awaiting vans for delivery to Diakonia’s Emergency Food Pantry.

“Diakonia helps a lot of families that are in transition from one place to another,” he said. “They have a very wide group of people that they work with and the food goes to a lot of different kinds of people.”

Foreman said addressing food insecurity seems vital during this severe economic downturn.

“A lot of people as summer goes on may have trouble with housing [or] meeting their rent and things of that nature,” he said. “Trying to put food on their table can be a big challenge.”

Kiwanis Club members have an extensive history of backing nonprofits such as Diakonia, in many cases investing sweat equity, Foreman said.

“We’ve supported them for a long time in our club,” he said. “We even have had people go over there and help sort the food.”

Landis, who in addition to handling marketing duties also serves on the Kiwanis Board of Directors and oversees the group’s annual toy drive, said, regardless of other challenges, diminishing membership has made charitable outreach efforts increasingly difficult.

“We’re down to 50 members. When I joined, we had 135 strong back in 2004,” he said. “We’re still doing what we did but it’s getting harder and harder.”

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Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City cohorts Dave Landis, left, and Tom Foreman were on hand Wednesday at the Ocean Pines Community Center to launch a weekly food drive to help stock the shelves at the Diakonia Emergency Food Pantry.