TORONTO - Those attending the ecumenical Thanksgiving service, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 24 at the Toronto Junior/Senior High School cafetorium, also will have the opportunity to assist the His Hands Extended food bank.
The service, organized by the Toronto Area Ministerial Association, will include an opportunity for those attending to keep the food bank open, according to the Rev. Mike Bongart, pastor of the Toronto First Presbyterian Church and T.A.M.A. member.
"It's our annual ecumenical Thanksgiving service," said Bongart, adding those attending will be asked to give a donation for the food bank. "This year we're doing something different. We're having a 'singspiration' along with the reading of Thanksgiving psalms. We don't have all the churches (who are participating) yet. We should know more after our meeting this week."
Also participating will be several area church choirs, added Bongart. The idea is to help the food pantry stay open for the community. Bongart said the pantry was in danger of closing, but has rebounded. However, more donations are needed to keep the pantry open, he added.
"The food pantry is open and isn't closing," said Bongart.
Bongart said T.A.M.A. decided to get involved after receiving a letter from the Rev. Lloyd Hill, pastor of the Abundant Life First Assembly of God Church, which oversees the food bank. In the letter, Hill asked other churches for assistance in keeping the pantry open.
"(Hill) sent a letter to the pastors of Toronto informing us of the financial difficulties the food bank was experiencing," said Bongart. "The pastors then decided to do something to help."
The food bank, 217 N. Fourth St., has been operating for several years and has fed thousands of people since. Bongart said pastors believe they needed to act to keep the pantry open.
"Basically what we did was form an advisory board to help raise funds for the pantry," he said.
Bongart also said George Komar, president of the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization, is assisting.
"In January we're going to go to various organizations and businesses for financial contributions for the food bank," Bongart said.
He noted one upcoming fundraiser includes 10 percent of sales at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant near the Fort Steuben Mall to go to the pantry for those customers presenting cards to the restaurant from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 25. Bongart said the cards will be available for free at the ecumenical service and at various churches.
Those wishing to make a donation to the food pantry should make checks payable to the His Hands Extended food pantry and send to 1009 N. Fourth St., Toronto, OH 43964. For information, call (740) 537-1823.