Olathe & Southwest Joco

Donations bail out Salvation Army’s Olathe Food Pantry

The Salvation Army’s Olathe Food Pantry is full.

Major Mark Martsolf never imagined he would utter those words before the holiday season this year.

A month after the food pantry declared it was running out of food, its shelves are now stocked with everything from canned goods to peanut butter to macaroni and cheese.

Martsolf, who leads the Salvation Army’s Olathe Corps, said that after an Olathe News article was published about the pantry’s dire situation in September, donations came pouring in.

The pantry has since received a couple tons of food, making it the fullest it has ever been in at least two years.

“I’ve been here eight years and this is the best response I have ever seen from a media story,” he said. “The article touched a nerve and the response has been overwhelming. It’s absolutely awesome.”

In the past month, truckloads of food have arrived at the pantry from families, churches and companies eager to help out.

Since the Salvation Army is heavily dependent on donors, Martsolf said organizers for the food pantry were humbled and touched by the community’s generosity.

“If people know we need help, they help, and we are so appreciative,” he said. “We’re excited to know we have food to feed people. We’re grateful.”

One of those donors was Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Overland Park.

When church member John Hall read the article about the food pantry’s shortage, he immediately called Cornerstone’s church office and set up a collection. It ended up being one of the biggest single donations the Olathe food pantry ever received.

“In only seven days, we collected over 1,350 items of food for donation,” Hall wrote the newspaper. “We are not the biggest church in the Kansas City area but we have a lot of members that have very big hearts and a strong desire to help people in our community.”

Now that the Salvation Army’s Olathe Corps has a full pantry, it is able to focus on the busy holiday season coming up.

The organization is looking for volunteers for its food pantry, to help with the kettles, and also for its Adopt-A-Family program.

With the Adopt-A-Family program, individuals or families can purchase Christmas gifts, food items and gift cards for area families in need.

Last year, the Adopt-A-Family program assisted 850 families out of Olathe.

Of course, the food pantry will also still need food, as the holidays roll around.

Jennifer Bhargava: bhargava913@gmail.com

You can help

Make donations at Salvation Army Olathe Corps, 420 E. Santa Fe, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

The Olathe Food Pantry is open to patrons from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursdays and 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays.

To volunteer, call 913-782-3640.