Donations bolster Enon pantry as need in area grows

Dawn Cox wanted to bring joy to the community by taking pictures of families stuck at home per orders from the state.

She ended up making a lot of money for a local pantry in the process.

“I wasn’t going charge anybody – I was just going take photos for people,” said Cox, who is a teacher’s aide at Enon Primary School and said she got the idea for a “porch project” from seeing them done in other nearby communities. “Well, then it took off.”

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At first, she was shooting a few people per day, but it soon grew to 15-20.

While social distancing guidelines have made gathering more complicated and regulated, Cox was able to pull it off with a little creativity from her subjects.

“It was nice to see everyone in their home environments at a distance,” she said. “Everyone came up with their own ideas. I could photograph at a distance and not have to worry about breaking the social distancing.”

When all was said and done, Cox had raised more than $1,400 for Enon Emergency Relief, a pantry that supports residents in the Greenon Local Schools district, an area that includes Enon and parts of Fairborn and Springfield.

Karen Olson, president of the EER, called Cox’s donation an incredible act.

“The generosity was just overwhelming to us,” Olson said.

Located at 105 N. Scott Street in Enon, the EER provides food and hygiene products for about 200 people per month. That includes residents who are eligible for Box 60, a program from the USDA that provides food for low-income residents over 60.

Olson said the EER is still able to serve its clients despite the state health department’s stay-at-home order issued last month and the closing of schools and nonessential businesses.

“We’re a little different than your typical food pantry who has the same people coming every week,” Olson said. “We’re more for emergency purposes. We support people who need emergency food, but we also help out with hygiene items because everybody needs toilet paper, right? Shampoo and things like that, and food stamps just doesn’t cover that.”

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Although it has lost roughly half its volunteers because they are part of at-risk groups for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the pantry is still able to serve clients because of a new pickup procedure made necessary by social distancing requirements laid out by the state and the CDC.

“Normally people would be coming in and we have a variety of choices on some things and they get to pick,” she said. “Of course we’re not doing that now, but we didn’t want to close down either so we have them pull up, and we get their name and family size and we kind of just go through the aisles for them. We ask them for specific requests or things they need. We kind of know some of the things they like or dislike because you get to know your clients. So we’re thrilled that we could still remain open during these difficult times.”

She said Cox’s donation, which totaled $1,450 and included 100 pounds of food, exceeds what the organization would normally see at this time of the year.

Olson is hopeful the pantry will continue to be able to provide help for local families, especially as need increases in the wake of layoffs and business closures related to the coronavirus and efforts to stop its spread.

“So far we’re in pretty good shape,” she said. “Thankfully because Second Harvest Food Bank has maintained their efforts and has continued to be such a blessing to the community. We’ve received additional donations, which is very helpful because we know we’re going to see an increase in clients.”

That includes those who could find themselves in need of financial assistance.

“We provide financial assistance to those with shutoff notices or evictions, so that will help in this regard to you because I’m sure we’ll see an increase in that,” Olson said.

Local corporations have donated, and Olson credited Second Harvest along with four area churches that provide regular support: Enon United Methodist Church, Knob Prairie United Church, Fowler Church of Christ and West Enon Church of God.

“Enon is a small town, but it has a huge heart,” Olson said.

Those interested in donating can call 937-864-5555 or send donations to P.O. Box 121, Enon, OH 45323.

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While a rise in donations around tax time is not unusual, Olson said they often drop during the summer and then pick up around the holidays when the EER provides additional services.

“We adopt families for Christmas,” Olson said. “We get sponsors for them, and then also we get cash donations and then we shop for these families to make sure everyone gets some gifts and they get some food so that everyone can have a good Christmas.”

For Cox, photography is a hobby at this point, but she is in the process of starting her own business.

In the meantime, she was happy to help the community in her own way.

“I didn’t feel right taking money because I knew a lot of people were out of work,” said Cox, whose husband is among those laid off at this time. “I just told people to give whatever they wanted to give – I didn’t specify. They didn’t have to make donations. It’s just something I was doing for the community.

“Even though we are all stuck at home, this was a way for everyone to still come together as a community.”

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