By Stacey Carmany
More than eight months after launching the Orchard of Hope campaign, the Millersburg Church of God is still nowhere close to raising the $500,000 needed to build a new home for its food pantry.
The church currently owns 8.7 acres of land on state Route 60 and would like to construct a large multi-purpose facility on the property to serve as the new headquarters for its weekly food pantry ministry, which is currently housed inside the church’s 960-square-foot fellowship hall.
To kick off fundraising for the project, the church launched the Orchard of Hope campaign late last year with the goal of raising the approximately $150,000 needed to begin construction. As part of the cam- paign, members of the community were invited to support the project by sponsoring one of 250 apple trees that would be planted on the southern part of the property to supply the pantry with fresh fruit during the harvest season and canned and frozen apple products throughout the year.
To date, the campaign has raised only about $2,000, according to church Pastor Dave Masters. “It did not generate a lot of money,” he said. “It was a little bit disappointing because I thought it would do a little better.”
The church has also been setting funds aside in a savings account but has only been able to come up with about $5,000, just enough to cover the cost of commissioning an architect to draw up the initial blueprints. “That’s not a lot of money when you start working on something like this,” Masters said. “I spent $1,500 or $1,800 in the opening round just to get it up and going.”
The original goal was to break ground for the facility this fall and have the construction completed by next spring. Masters noted that the church has no plans to abandon the project at this point, however, it can’t begin building until additional funds become available. “Being that this is a ministry and not a business, there’s no way you can leverage, borrow, do anything for that kind of money,” he explained. “You have to have funds available before you start.”
Also included in the plans for the new facility is an upstairs meeting area that could be rented out for community events and family functions to help offset the cost of the project. However, even in the best case scenario, the venue would bring in about $15,000 per year, according to Masters. “That’s not enough to support the demand that we would have for funds,” he said.
Masters noted that the church plans to continue saving and fundraising for as long as it takes to fully fund the project. “It’s not tabled. It’s just moving a little slower than I’d like,” he said.
The Millersburg Church of God Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a partner of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. The pantry currently serves roughly 100 local families each week and has distributed in excess of 500,000 pounds annually for the last three years. The pantry also facilitates a back- pack program during the school year that provides three meals every weekend to an average of 250 students per week.
Donations toward the Orchard of Hope Campaign can be made online at www.millers- burgchurchofgod.com. Checks can also be made out to The Pantry with Orchard of Hope on the memo line and mailed to Millersburg Church of God, 10643 State Route 39, Millersburg, OH 44654.
In addition to funds for the new facility, the organization also has an immediate need for volunteers and food donations. In terms of food donations, there is always a need for meat and meat products, according to Masters. “We could use some of those donations,” he said. “I have storage capacity to store it for more than two weeks. If someone would consider giving [meat] to the food pantry as a donation, we would definitely appreciate that.”
To learn more, call Pastor Dave Masters at 330-231-7058 or Shirley Proper at 330-763-1086.
This story originally appeared in the July 25, 2018 edition of The Budget. To read more stories from the area, pick up a copy available each Wednesday, or subscribe and have it waiting in your mailbox each week. Call us at 330-852-4634.