Springfield Area Performing Arts Organizations keep Springfield Catholic Charities Holy Family Food Pantry shelves full

Posted on July 28, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – When COVID-19 closed schools in mid-March, Jennifer Gronewold, Special Education Coordinator at Sacred Heart Griffin high school, started volunteering at Springfield Catholic Charities Holy Family Food Pantry.

"Kamayi Denis [Springfield Catholic Charities Office Manager], came back from a church food pickup with only six canned goods. I could tell he looked worried about how he was going to find food when the churches and school weren't operating," said Jennifer.

Jennifer, who is also the president of the Springfield Theatre Center, had an idea and knew just the group of people to help her execute her plan.

With the performing arts community unable to perform due to the coronavirus, Jennifer approached them about hosting a food drive for Holy Family Food Pantry as a way to give back to the Springfield community, and the first ever "Springfield Area Performing Arts and Friends Food Drive" was born.

"With the absence of theater and performances, many of us in the theater community miss the love and support we typically get from our show families and have been looking for alternate ways to share that love, that experience, with the community. It seemed like the perfect time for performing arts performers, staff, volunteers, and patrons to come together to support those in our wider community living with food insecurity," said Jennifer.

The food pantry has been struggling to keep its shelves stocked due to the closures of schools, churches, and other usual sources of donations. The food drive, held July 17th and 18th, brought in three large truckloads of food.

Kamayi estimated the food would last about a month and be a critical source for families struggling from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

"The outpouring of support from over 15 performing arts organizations, including high school theater departments, has been tremendous. I continue to be amazed at the overwhelming generosity and spirit of giving shown by our performing arts community. With three trucks full of donations and four hours of sorting and organizing, the food pantry shelves are once again full, as are our hearts," said Jennifer.

"The Holy Family Food Pantry's ability to continue to feed people is only because of the generosity of this community and amazing people like Jennifer. Donations to the Holy Family Food Pantry are dire to its success, especially in the midst of a pandemic. The food and monetary donations from this food drive and beyond keep the men, women and children in our community nourished and give them hope for the future," said Laura Wolfe, Development Director for Catholic Charities.

"Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Jennifer and the Springfield Theatre Centre, Springfield Muni Opera, Springfield Ballet Company, Springfield Youth Performance Group, Legacy Theatre, Theatre in the Park, Landmark Ford, Hoogland Center for the Arts, and many area high school theater departments."

To make a donation to Springfield Catholic Charities Holy Family Food Pantry, or one of Catholic Charities many other food programs, please visit cc.dio.org.


Photo Caption

SPRINGFIELD – Roger and Julie Finnell stopped by the food drive on their bicycles to drop off food at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Roger is a Springfield Theatre Centre board member.  (Photo credit: Mary Young)