by Cassie Mattia

Loveland, Ohio – There is no better time than now to give back to your local community and that’s just what The Loveland Police Department and the Loveland Citizens Police Academy Alumni did! On Saturday, July 18th at the Loveland Madeira Kroger the two local organizations sponsored the Annual “Stuff-a-Cruiser” Food Drive, in order to benefit Loveland’s very own LIFE Food Pantry.

LIFE or Loveland Interfaith Effort is a faith and community-supported organization that provides food, financial assistance, and programs to those experiencing hardship in the greater Loveland area. LIFE is located at 101 S Lebanon Road and is open for donations Thursdays from 3 PM-6:30 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM-12:30 PM. LIFE also supplies Holiday Baskets during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, and runs both a Giving Shop, which provides eligible families the chance to shop for new gifts for their families and a Student LIFE Shop, that provides much-needed items to students in the Loveland School District. LIFE also has a food pantry called Tiger Pantry, which provides Loveland students in need with necessary food items.

During the Summer months, the LIFE Food Pantry tends to get very low in food supplies because there are so many families that are at home (school is out which means no school lunch programs to fall back on) and in need of nutrition. This is why both the LPD and Loveland Citizens Police Academy sponsor the Annual “Stuff-a-Cruiser” specifically over the Summer.

This year volunteers held the “Stuff-a-Cruiser” Food Drive beginning at 9 AM on July 18th at the Loveland Kroger and collected food items and cash donations the majority of the day! Those within the Loveland community and those just casually grocery shopping were able to bring food items from their home to “stuff the cruiser” or could simply use Kroger’s “Click List” and select specific items to go towards “LIFE Food Pantry Stuff-a-Cruiser.” Shoppers were also able to leave a cash donation in LIFE’s designated donation jar located on their Food Drive display!

Peggy Goodwin, a member of the Loveland Citizens Police Academy, spent most of her day at the Food Drive event helping organize donations and couldn’t express enough how kind the community of Loveland is for the number of donations brought in!

“Inside the gym at Prince of Peace – as soon as a cart came through the door, volunteers immediately started sorting the grocery items onto tables by commodity. The Pantry estimates the value of the groceries, gift cards, and monetary donations at $4,000,” Goodwin said, “This provided a much-needed boost to help fill their ‘cupboard.’ This event speaks volumes to the kindness and generosity of the Loveland community – whenever there is a need, you can count on our residents to step up and do what they can to take care of their neighbors. What a great place to call home! And thank you, Cassie and Dave, for giving up your Saturday morning to come out to talk with us, see what was going on, and now spreading the word about some of the great things Lovelanders do to help each other,” Goodwin added.

Loveland Magazine Editor, David Miller, and I wanted to show our support for such a fantastic event so we spent time with Goodwin, LT. Amy Campbell, and many other volunteers at the “Stuff-a-Cruiser” Food Drive while taking in all the acts of kindness the Loveland community put forth through both food and cash donations. Both Miller and I brought over food donations ourselves as we encouraged those walking in and out of Kroger to do the same. Miller expressed that this particular Food Drive is one of the most important events held in Loveland every summer.

“This time of year is so vastly different from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season when thinking about others comes so easy. Each penny families and seniors don’t have to spend on food can go instead to paying bills like rent and utilities,” Miller said, “These needs are something the greater community can help with and they really came through as usual with this reminder from the folks that worked so hard to pull it off.”

Being in the presence of such generosity at the “Stuff-a-Cruiser” Food Drive made me feel as though I was helping so many families in need and I encourage those within the Loveland community to always make time to give back. Being kind can allow us all to receive the ultimate reward in life…HAPPINESS! Now please enjoy the interview with Peggy Goodwin and LT. Amy Campbell as well as the photo album below from the Food Drive!

If you would like to donate food items or learn how you can get access to food benefits for you and your family go to http://www.lifefoodpantry.org/. Thank you once again Loveland for being a community filled with LOVE!

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Columnist Cassia Mattia is a resident of Historic Downtown Loveland. She is the Associate Editor of Loveland Magazine.