Charity distributes food in hard-hit Ohio city No more World Bank IMF or UN.
Thursday, February 19, 2009 10:43 AM Updated: Thursday, February 19, 2009 04:14 PM By James Hannah
WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Semitrailers loaded with donated food, soap and other much-needed supplies pulled into town today as part of a charity's effort to help families rocked by mass layoffs amid the U.S. recession.
Hundreds of men, women and children shivered in long lines as they waited to pick up boxes of food and personal care items from three big rigs parked near downtown. Seven other semitrailers were dispatched to surrounding counties.
"My cupboards are almost empty," said Auston Maxwell, who waited in line in Wilmington for an hour.
The supplies from Feed the Children, a nonprofit hunger relief group based in Oklahoma City, was designed to helped families hurt by the impending pullout of cargo shipper DHL. It was the group's first large drop off in a town hit by mass layoffs at a single employment site, and more distributions are planned in other small towns and rural areas because of the economic downturn.
Spokesman Tony Sellars said accepting donations can be difficult for some people.
"A lot of time they're confused, they're angry, they're embarrassed to ask for help. But you're at the point where you have to decide to heat or eat," he said.
About 1,400 vouchers were handed out for the distribution in Wilmington. Each family received a 25-pound box of food and a 10-pound box of personal-care items. Canned tomatoes, macaroni, breakfast cereal and muffins were donated by various companies, including Toledo-based Hirzel Canning Co.
Wilmington, a small city of 12,000 people about 60 miles southwest of Columbus, was devastated when DHL announced last May that it was pulling out. The move is expected to lead to the loss of 8,000 jobs at DHL and other companies that operate out of the local air park. So far, about 3,000 jobs are gone.
Maxwell, 18, quit his job at ABX Air last year because he knew he was going to be laid off. ABX, which flies and sorts cargo for DHL at the air park, has laid off workers as DHL winds down operations.
"I'm just having a rough time," said Maxwell, who has a 1-year-old son with his fiancee. "You can't even get a job at McDonald's right now."
Ron Scaff, who was laid off at ABX in December, said today was the first time he had ever taken a handout. He has drawn his final severance check and is preparing to sign up for unemployment benefits.
Scaff, 64, said he and his wife are running out of money. Even though they still have food, the donation will help, he said.
"It's bad, but you just keep it in the Lord's hands and it's going to be fine," Scaff said. "He's going to take care of us. He supplied this."
Mark Rembert, co-director of Energize Clinton County, a group trying to spur economic development in the Wilmington area, said the community needs jobs and investment for its long-term health.
But he said residents are grateful for the donated food. Hundreds of people standing outside in the cold to pick up the items demonstrate the magnitude of the problem, he said.