When January rolls around each year in Nevada, IA, it is time for residents to Fill the Foyer.
For seven consecutive years, the annual campaign to collect clothing, food item, and supplies – to support the entities that help local families in need — has continued. Donations are placed in the foyer of Nevada’s City Hall and then distributed to Harmony Clothing Closet, Nevada Community Cupboard, Cubbie’s Cupboard (at the school), and Food at First.
The drive began in 2015 when the City was going through a time of increased negativity. Brett Barker, who wasn’t yet Nevada’s mayor, suggested the campaign as a way to do something positive. “I wanted to highlight the things I loved about Nevada,” he noted at the time.
Through the years, Barker, who was elected as Mayor in 2017, said he’s been “blown away” by the support the community has shown for this drive, year after year, even during the pandemic.
This year, the positivity and giving continue.
Elizabeth Gindt, a Nevada School District employee who helps with collections for both Harmony Clothing Closet and Cubbie’s Cupboard, helped list some of the things most needed by the two agencies.
At Harmony, she said, “any winter weather items (boots, gloves, hats, coats, long-sleeve shirts, snow pants, socks), clothing of all sizes, blankets, linens, tennis shoes” are things families come in needing at this time of year. “We also take small household items, but no electronics or books.”
At Cubbie’s Cupboard, which serves more than 40 households each month, non-perishable food items and hygiene items are given to those in need. “The items most needed at this time are soup, cereal and pasta,” Gindt said.
Harmony Clothing Closet, which serves over 1,000 people each month, has seen a “steady increase in our friends and neighbors who are in need this season,” Gindt said. “Helping fill the racks during the coldest time of year helps ensure that we can keep little fingers and toes warm.”
Taylor Watson, who oversees the Nevada Community Cupboard, said January’s Fill the Foyer is an important community effort. “We often continue to see higher need following the holidays, and the drive in January helps us continue to serve others during this peak season.”
Watson said while non-perishable food items are important, household and personal hygiene items are very much needed and are often overlooked. Needed are things like diapers, tampons and pads, soaps, lotions, and laundry detergent. “Almost anything you use day-to-day, someone else is in need of. These are some of the best things you can give because they are in high demand,” Watson said.
The Nevada Community Cupboard serves more than 100 households (more than 250 individuals). “All donations are appreciated,” Watson said.
Food at First, which in 2021 gave out 16,827 meals on Monday and Thursday evenings, would like Fill the Foyer donations to focus on specific items that make the distribution of meals possible.
Barb Mittman, who coordinates Food at First, said leaders of this free-meals program talk throughout the year about collaborations for food, funds, and volunteer time, and they’ve benefitted greatly in these areas during the holiday season. “In January, we can spotlight just a few specific needs and give residents a chance to say, ‘I can do that’ and make a difference,” Mittman said.
What specific items are needed? Three-compartment carry-out food containers, food service gloves (in all sizes), zipper sandwich bags, and gallon freezer bags are at the top of the wish list.
Fill the Foyer started today, Jan. 4, and continues through Thursday, Jan. 27. Donations for any or all of these organizations may be placed in the City Hall foyer, which will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada