One phone call made by Hazelwood Ward 2 Councilman Bob Aubuchon set in motion a chain reaction that opened the door for a delivery van to be donated to TEAM Food Pantry. Jerry Eickel, Vice President and Owner, and Kevin Hall, Director of Corporate Partnerships, for the Bommarito Automotive Group of Hazelwood recently took a tour of the facility and presented a 2012 Nissan NV 2500 van to the organization.
“It was Kevin Hall and his connections with Bob Aubuchon who brought this need to my attention and we couldn’t say no,” Jerry Eickel said. “After seeing everything with our own eyes — all the hard work being done by volunteers to provide basic food and essentials for families in need — we’re proud to be a part of it. We’re happy to be able to donate.”
The way this opportunity fell into place was almost like one of those perfect storms, Eickel recalled. “Bob calls me, Kevin calls me, and then a Parts Director tells me he has some nice vans available for purchase — all within 48 hours. Everything suddenly clicked together, it was meant to be.”
According to Kevin Hall, “All the right hearts came together for the right reason doing the right thing. Bommarito, and John and Jerry as company leaders, care about the communities in which we serve. We have relationships with people in each of the communities where we operate automotive dealerships. And, I love the fact that Bommarito likes to give back to the community and make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
To help build name recognition for TEAM Food Pantry and to give the delivery vehicle a professional look, Bommarito worked with Dan Martino, a graphic artist, to do the decal work. It displays the food pantry’s logo, street address and contact information on both sides of the van and on the back doors.
“We’re grateful to the Bommarito Automotive Group for its generous donation of a delivery van to our food pantry,” Mark J. Behlmann, Board President, TEAM Food Pantry, said. “This vehicle will enable us to pick up and deliver food for our clients in the Hazelwood and Florissant areas. It will also make it easier for us to go around and gather donated food items at each of our drop-off collection sites.”
TEAM operates five days a week, Monday through Friday, and two hours on Saturday. It serves 40-plus families every day. On a monthly basis, the food pantry takes care of between 800 to 900 families. “We have 2,800 families that are registered with us. Not all of them come in every month. Some visit every other month or once every six months,” said Pat Piotrowicz, Board Secretary/Treasurer, TEAM Food Pantry.
The amount of food provided for each client is supplemental and enough to last them a week or a week and a half. Families are provided with basic items such as meat, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, bakery, produce and other items. Household supplies, personal care items and some infant supplies are distributed when available.
“Most of our clients will apply for USDA government commodities which provide them with additional canned foods and some chickens. We get these commodities from the St. Louis Food Bank and other Internet web orders,” Piotrowicz said. “We spend about $2,000 a week on buying additional food items. So we do go through a lot of money on a monthly basis.”
Money that comes in to cover these expenses is generated through TEAM’s fund-raising efforts as well as generous donations given by local churches, organizations, businesses and individuals. Individuals can support TEAM through donations of money and food. People can drop off a check or cash at the pantry or send it by mail to this address: TEAM Food Pantry, 265 Rue St. Catherine, Florissant, MO 63031. Also, members of TEAM’s church coalition are encouraged to designate part of their regular mission support funds to the pantry and participate in food offering programs.
Individuals can bring food to the pantry five days a week between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., including Saturdays from 10 a.m. to Noon. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off in collection containers placed at each of the fire stations and community centers in Hazelwood and Florissant as well. In addition, organizations and businesses can host food drives and designate TEAM as the recipient of their corporate donation gift.
Local residents are encouraged to take a tour of the facility or to help out as a volunteer. TEAM volunteers constitute 100-percent of the pantry’s staff; no one receives a salary. One of TEAM’s volunteers, Nancy Wolff, has been the pantry’s executive director for a little over a year and has impacted the organization in a positive way. She works well with the other volunteers on a daily basis and firmly believes in community, commitment and compassion. Her efforts include inviting people to TEAM for a tour and urging them to become a volunteer which is a rewarding experience.
The pantry has 116 volunteers who answer the phones, fill the orders, and stock the shelves. Warehouse volunteers work daily, picking up food donations from grocery stores, businesses and individuals. Those who have a large food donation can now call the pantry at (314) 831-0879 and TEAM will pick it up using its new delivery van, donated by the Bommarito Automotive Group of Hazelwood.