ALLIANCE, OHIO - For the past eight year,s the Alliance Community Pantry has filled a need no single church or community organization could by itself.
Last year, the pantry gave out more than a million and a half pounds of food to 2,800 families facing difficulties. And the need is tremendous.
"When you look at our statistics, we serve almost a third of the population of Alliance gets food from us," said Mike Patterson, vice president of the pantry's board of directors.
The pantry has never had a fundraiser. It has relied entirely on volunteers and donations.
Dr. David Goldman, the pantry's manager, said most of the financial contributions it gets are specifically designated for purchasing of food and cannot be used for anything else.
The pantry used its only truck to make trips twice a week to the Akron Canton Food Bank to keep its shelves stocked. It brings about 10,000 pounds of food each trip.
But as the truck was backing up to the pantry's loading dock on Monday, the engine caught fire.
Chris Bradway ran over with a fire extinguisher after seeing the fire on surveillance cameras at the nearby Alliance Loan Company.
"I mean, they were in panic, didn't know what to do. So I just did my best to put it out and luckily we did because it was right over the fuel source. So we didn't know if it could have exploded and wiped their whole building out," Bradway said.
None of the food that was in the truck was damaged in the fire, but the incident leaves the pantry without any means to pick up or deliver its supplies. Without the pantry, there is a concern that the shelves could quickly be bare.
"It takes those two trips to keep this place stocked," said board member Glenn Rupp.
"We've got a pick up Monday . We may cancel that pickup because the condition we are in right now. We can get through, but Wednesday, I think we are going to have to rent a truck," Rupp said.
The pantry does not have the money to continue to rent a truck, so there is a desperate search underway for a replacement.
"We have never had to have a fundraiser. We have gotten fantastic support from the community and a lot of churches," Goldman said.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution can contact the Alliance Community Pantry or send contributions to PO Box 2581, Alliance, Ohio 44601.