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SERVICE WITH A SMILE

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Service with a Smile

Sue Camlin- Team Philadelphia, T2, Q1

The Cherry Hill Food and Outreach (CHFO) is committed to Service with a Smile. Year-round, CHFO answers the call to help those in need within the Cherry Hill, NJ (tri-county) area. They provide a steady food supply that includes high-demand items like bread, milk, and eggs.

For one lead volunteer, Sue Camlin, food and outreach is her personal mission. This year alone, as part of her participation in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership program, new food-pantry partnerships and contributions are keeping the cupboards full and the Tuesday night/Thursday afternoon distribution timeframes now offer expanded services including medical check-ups by nurses. Sue believes magical things are happening – including the miraculous $8,000 check that showed up in July of 2009.

“I’m really excited about being with the clients,” Sue states. “I feel connected to the community, the volunteers, and the families. We now even have the Mayor’s office and the Cherry Hill Library involved. New leaders keep emerging to help!”

When it comes to the CHFO growth over time, the numbers are staggering. At the beginning May of 2006, only non-perishable items were collected, and the CHFO’s physical space was a church cellar, with NO refrigerator or freezer, and limited access to get into the cellar! Now, the ‘super market’ sized space includes three refrigerators, three freezers, and convenient access. Operating inside of a commitment to “be of service” and “love thy neighbor,” the number of participating families went from 30 to 550. And the program is only three years young.

Here’s another look at the numbers: In June. 2009, CHFO’s volunteers got to see firsthand the fruits of their labor as more than seven hundred children were provided with food and personal items. With school lunches absent during the summer, the nutritional needs of children are of great concern. Food pantries often view summer as the worst time of year, but CHFO is in full stock, specifically with peanut butter, jelly and ‘meals in a can.’

At this time when one in eight Americans is struggling with the reality of hunger and food insecurity, a new type of client has emerged—middleclass people who have been hit with foreclosures and layoffs. According to Sue, CHFO does what it can to care for its clients—delivering food to people having medical problems, giving out Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift bags, families within a 5-mile radius of the pantry are eligible for bags full of groceries twice a week.

“People who come to us from outside the area still get food and we also give them a list of food pantries in their areas,” Sue said. “We have never turned anybody away, because our commitment to the community is so great and strong. CHFO is a wonderful group.” To participate, visit www.cherryhillfoodpantry.org or contact Sue Camlin at scamlin1@comcast.net.

Written by Wendy Zalles

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