17 Jun, 2021
On Saturday, April 18, our United Way got a call from Ed Muransky.
He wanted to know how people who could not and SHOULD NOT get out because of the coronavirus pandemic are getting food and daily essentials.
Sure the food pantries serve a lot of people and play a vital role in our community, but there are plenty of people who do not have the means to get to those pantries.
So, Ed wanted to partner with our United Way to fill that gap. That very Saturday we got the call, our United Way quickly got to work and from that we started our Satur-Day of Caring.
Ed Muransky knew we needed to do something to help those who could not get out of their homes.
Your United Way and the Muransky Family spent the next 6 days reaching out to our partner agencies, community organizations, and local churches to get the names of seniors, shut-ins, and families who needed food during Ohio’s shut down.
We reached out to locally owned Save-A-Lot to order the food.
Volunteers packing food delivered by Save-A-Lot on June 13, 2020
We reached out to our supporters to volunteer to pack and deliver that food to our neighbors in need.
Our dedicated group of volunteers who came every week to pack and delivery the food to 250 households.
Donors like PNC Bank and the Jane F. Lamb Charitable Foundation stepped up to provided funding.
The very next Saturday, April 25, about 6 days later, we found ourselves in a parking lot behind the Southwoods Surgical hospital preparing food bags to deliver to 110 households. Together, we agreed we would do this for the next 8 weeks.
April 25, 2020
We delivered to 110 households.
Our 110 households quickly grew to 250 households.
Local businesses like One Hot Cookie, Oh Donut, Giannios Candies, and Chick Fil A donated special treats to go along with the essentials like milk, bread, pasta, and fruit.
Giannios Candy Company donated boxes of candy and volunteered to help pack the food bags.
OH Donut! and One Hot Cookie provided weekly treats.
Other non-profits pitched in – Ursuline Ministries, Catholic Charities, YMCA of Youngstown, Project MKC, and Direction Home of Eastern Ohio – by offering personal hygiene items, bread, diapers, and baby wipes to help us fulfill the needs of the seniors, shut-ins, and families.
Each week about 25- 30 packers donning their masks and gloves, socially distanced and lined up to pack the food bags.
Ed Muransky and his family were there every weekend leading the charge.
We worked through a late spring snowstorm and plenty of early morning sunshine.
A spring time snow storm made packing a little tricky on May 9, 2020.
And every Saturday it only took about 40 minutes to pack all 250 bags.
Thank you Gorilla Joe Printing for creating our Satur-Day of Caring shirts!
Then our 25 volunteer delivery drivers lined up to take these items directly to those who could not get out of their homes.
Y.S.U. Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jerrod Calhoun and his familiy lining up to deliver the food.
For eight weeks, this army of volunteers, many of them meeting for the first time, was brought together by your United Way and a need in your community. Companies sent groups of volunteers.
Packer Thomas sent between 8 and 10 employees and family members each week to help.
Entire families – children, parents, and in some cases grandparents – came to help.
The Schaab Family packed and delivered.
The entire Shapiro family showed up every week to pack and deliver the food.
High School students showed up to lend a hand.
YSU Coaches from the football and basketball teams were devoted volunteers rarely missing a week.
Y.S.U. Head Football Coach Doug Phillips was a dedicated volunteer.
We bonded. We made new friends as we packed and organized the bags. We worked alongside (of course, by alongside we mean was socially distanced) coworkers in a new way. We convinced teenage sons and daughters to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning. We discovered new parts of the Mahoning Valley covering the entire county from Sebring to New Middletown and North Jackson to Lowellville.
Our Satur-Day of Caring crew not only became friends, but it felt like we were a family taking care of our homebound family members.
Our volunteers came back each week with heartwarming stories:
One family met an older Italian woman in Austintown. They saved her house for last on their list so they could visit – properly masked and socially distanced. They learned new words in Italian and spent time getting to know their new friend who lived alone
Another volunteer learned of a South Side Youngstown woman’s love of art and painting. Since she could not get out, she ran out of art supplies. So our volunteer quietly returned during the week, and placed paint and paint brushes on her front porch. She called our United way to thank us, and said she was donating 5 paintings to us – one for each time we fed her.
Josephine shared her love of art with our volunteer, who in turn helped her with new art supplies.
Several of our seniors we were helping insisted on donating to our United Way, saying they had money for groceries just no safe way of getting to the store.
A family with children with special needs met our volunteer at the door in tears because they were pretty much out of food until this delivery.
Our United Way received several hand-written thank yous. Numerous voicemails thanking our volunteers for their time.
Since Ohio is starting to open back up more and more, our United Way and the Muransky Family decided the best way to move forward with our Satur-Day of Caring is to deliver food on a monthly basis.
But these last 8 weeks have been life changing for all of us – not just those we are helping.
Satur-Day of Caring volunteers packing the bags.
We have all heard over and over since the pandemic started, “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”. Our Satur-day of Caring truly exemplified that…we all came together to fulfill a need, but we did so much more than deliver food, personal items, diapers, and whatever else our seniors, shut-ins, and families needed. We all became friends and ultimately a family who pulled together during these uncertain times to create a bond and experience none of us will forget.
As we look to the future we will Rise United as we rebuild from this pandemic and re-imagine how to best serve our community…as well as make new friends that will become part of our United Way Family