Lending a socially distant hand in Tonganoxie

Dennis Shelton drops off some toilet paper at a food and supplies drive Friday in downtown Tonganoxie. Tonganoxie Mayor David Frese organized the drive with other volunteers for the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Items also were accepted at Brothers Market and Tonganoxie United Methodist Church. Good Shepherd officials say the drive helped with several needs, but still could especially use handsoap and jelly at this time. Enlarge photo

March 25, 2020

A frigid Friday morning didn’t keep local residents from joining together to donate goods — with the required distance, of course.

Tonganoxie Mayor David Frese coordinated with others to provide three drop-off spots: downtown next to the pocket park near Fourth and Delaware streets, at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church and Brothers Market. Monetary donations also were accepted.

As several people stopped near the downtown pocket park at Fourth and Delaware streets to drop off items and money, Meagan Vestal, who volunteered to collect items at Brothers Market, said some people brought in canned goods and the like, while others bought a few more things at the store and dropped them off on the way out.

The book nook at the downtown pocket park at Fourth and Delaware streets in Tonganoxie has been converted into a makeshit satellite food pantry.

The book nook at the downtown pocket park at Fourth and Delaware streets in Tonganoxie has been converted into a makeshit satellite food pantry.

“I think it went awesome,” Vestal said. “The community was very giving.”

Council Member Jake Dale joined Vestal at Brothers Market and then assisted Frese with taking all of the goods to Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank with others.

Frese and Dale also put some soup cans in the former book nook in the downtown park, which has turned into small-scale pocket park pantry. Others have dropped off items there for anyone who needs a bit of food to grab some.

The drive helped beef up the food bank’s supply, according to Good Shepherd’s Janet Stuke.

She said a combination of Friday’s drive with the Tonganoxie and McLouth United Methodist churches Souper Bowl Challenge and the former Mayor Jason Ward’s annual drive during the holiday provided good timing with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic now.

Of course, there still are some needs.

“Right now probably one of our shortest things is our jelly,” Stuke said.

She said the pantry currently had a good supply of peanut butter.

Other things on the pantry’s wish list: liquid hand soap, bar soap and eggs. She noted that the egg supply was “getting pretty low.”

“Food-wise, any meat that can be put in the freezer or shelf-stable,” Stuke said, referring to other items that the pantry could use.

Shelf-stable meat, Stuke explained, would be canned tuna or canned chicken, for instance.

Though its thrift store is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Good Shepherd is opening the food bank during select hours each week for those in need.

The pantry is open 9-11 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

People are encouraged to call Good Shepherd first at 913-845-3964 before stopping by for assistance.

Visitors also are asked to drive to the alley behind the store so that items can be picked up just outside the back entrance.

Something to remember when helping neighbors or dropping off items for community members in general is to wipe down items first with disinfectant wipes or the like to sanitize cardboard and grocery items within boxes.

The Mirror asked county officials earlier this week whether that was a good practice.

Ken Miller, public information officer for the city of Lansing, is assisting Leavenworth County during the pandemic responded to The Mirror’s inquiry.

“It is beneficial to use wipes to sanitize both the cardboard and the items. CDC reports indicate the virus can potentially live up to 24 hours on surfaces,” he said.

As Miller noted, people need to use common sense.

“Think about others – going out often can put others around you at risk each time you leave your residence,” Miller said in an email. “There is an emergency order in effect — limit those trips out! For instance, make a grocery list and get the necessities once a week.”

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