Yvette Kelly-Fields, executive director, The Wesley Community Center. Wesley, which was founded 50 years ago in response to the 1966 riot, added this mural of a community rebuilding this summer. JOSH SWEIGART / STAFF

How Dayton center raised more than $30,000 with plastic bags 

“Giving allows us to say ‘yes’ when you send (those in need) to us,” executive director said. “Your giving allows us to keep doing this.”

Plastic bags can do more than hold things. 

Yvette Kelly-Field, executive director of the Wesley Community Center, said the bags can fill big gaps.

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The nonprofit at 3730 Delphos Ave. in Dayton raised $30,100 through its “The Power of The Bag” campaign. This is $100 more than the goal. 

Among other things, the Wesley Center has a food pantry, offers after-school and workplace training programs, and services and support to seniors. 

As part of the campaign inspired by a national organization fund-raising drive, the Wesley Center mails the support letter below with a plastic bag that’s similar to those used in its pantry to local residents and supporters. 

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It is a needed cushion for the center’s nearly $1 million budget. 

“That money is the unrestricted dollars to take care of things that are not covered anywhere else (in the budget),” Kelly-Field said of the money raised by the year-end campaign. 

The Methodist Mission Society founded the Wesley Center in 1966.  

The center’s pantry helps about 7,000 people annually. Another roughly 1,500 people use the center’s other programs and services. 

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Kelly-Field said she could not stress enough how important community giving is to local safety net social service organizations like the Wesley Center. 

“Giving allows us to say ‘yes’ when you send (those in need) to us,” Kelly-Field said. “Your giving allows us to keep doing this.”

WESLEY CENTER THE POWER OF THE BAG LETTER 

The bag you presently hold in your hands is just like the one that one of our clients, Candice, held on the first day she started working in the Wesley Community Center food pantry. A high school dropout and homeless with four children, bagging groceries in our food pantry was what she did to fulfill her work experience hours in exchange for cash benefits and food stamps. 

The Wesley Community Center is one of the non-profit agencies who distribute food from The Food Bank to those in need.... Volunteers Jessica Stone of Dayton (left) and Jenny McGuire keep the food pantry stocked. McGuire also uses the pantry.
Photo: Lisa Powell

This is the bag she used on a daily basis to help our families in the food pantry to bag their groceries and carry them home. This is the bag that made her an official member of the food pantry team. A team that consisted of: a man, who through his volunteer service at the Center completely rebuilt his life after years of problems, a volunteer, who used the offerings and support at the Center to transform her granddaughter from a runaway into a successful high school graduate and Cheryl, our food pantry supervisor, who just like Candice was once struggling to simply hold her family and children together. 

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Yvette Kelly-Fields stands in the new climated-controlled food pantry at the Wesley Community Center. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

Holding this bag made Candice a part of a group of people who like her had been there, fought through it and had survived. Her daily conversations with them while bagging groceries and her sessions with her case manager helped Candice to see what was possible for her life. She realized her situation was not unique. More importantly, she now had a group of people to support her and to guide her. Having this informal group of advisers helped her to heal and dream once again. 

Eventually she put the bag down, met with her case manager and created a self-sufficiency plan in order to change her life. She moved from her friend’s couch to her own apartment, got herself a car and enrolled in GED classes at the Center. After meeting the requirements of her work experience, she was hired as a part time driver at the Center so that she could begin to rebuild her work history. With her new job and GED classes, Candice no longer works in our food pantry though she knows that at any time she can return there, pick up a bag and work through any issue. 

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For some, this bag holds groceries to feed their family. For others, like Candice, it holds an opportunity to start over again. However, without your support, there would be no food pantry and no bags. 

Today, we have someone new working in our food pantry and like Candice, she has had multiple setbacks. She too needs her GED. She too needs reliable transportation. And she too, needs a job. It is our hope that the support she receives from the staff and volunteers here at the Center will give her the confidence she needs to move forward. 

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The Wesley Community Center serves as a work site for a multitude of people receiving assistance. Our ability to offer work site opportunities and wrap around services is essential to helping them to create better lives for themselves.  

As a supporter of the Wesley Community Center, I want you to know that it is not always the biggest things that make the biggest difference. Sometimes something as simple as a paper bag is all one needs to carry the ingredients, to make the meal that could feed thousands.  

This year we need $30,000 by December 31 to assist others like Candice. Those funds pay for the bags and the food in our food pantry. It also fills in the financial gaps for our other programs. $30,000 is a big ask but a gift of $100, $25, $50 or even $10 makes a difference. Would you consider such a gift today? 

Please use the enclosed envelope to give. We even provided the postage. All we’re asking is that you complete it, seal it and mail it.  

Oh, and feel free to use the bag as you will around your house. Let it be a reminder that the greatest of things can be held in the smallest of bags.

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