A pancake may not seem very impressive, but in the hands of Janaki Venkayya it has become a community powerhouse. Thirty-two years ago, the Beavercreek woman determined to tackle the problem of hunger and homelessness in the Miami Valley by raising awareness and funds through a one-day pancake brunch. She dubbed it the “Day of Caring,” and enlisted the aid of 12 churches and 250 volunteers who served as many as 3,000 breakfasts that first year and raised $8,000.
Now, more than three decades later, the event has become a beloved annual tradition with dozens of churches and service organizations involved. On Sunday, Feb. 27, an estimated 5,000 guests will chow down on pancakes and sausage in an effort to help those less fortunate. “The uncertainty about the future is greater today than when we started 32 years ago,” Venkayya says, “Nowadays we don’t even know who could be standing in the lines for food and shelter. It might be someone who had a good job a year ago.”
The hope this year is to raise $15,000 for local emergency hunger and housing coalitions. Many new sites have been added. In addition to Montgomery County and the City of Dayton, Greene, Preble and Clark counties are also involved. Sites in Cincinnati and Springfield are also participating with money from ticket sales going back to the county in which they were raised.
Though most sites offer the traditional sausage and eggs along with the pancakes, organizations are welcome to add their own specialties. Some sites include fresh fruit, or an omelet bar. All sites will have carry-out available.
Cost of the brunch is $6 for an adult, $4 for seniors and children. A complete list of brunch sites and the times they will operate can be found at the Day of Caring 365 Web site: www.dayofcaring.us. For more information, call (937) 708-8011.
The organization established the Simply Essential Hygiene Pantry and changed its name to “Day of Caring 365″ to reflect the organization’s commitment to serving the needy 365 days a year. The hygiene pantry provides local pantries and shelters with a variety of products that cannot be purchased with food stamps.
“Roberta Shiverdecker was a driving force in growing and establishing the pantry,” says trustee Steve Pax. “Sadly, Roberta passed away suddenly in August of 2018. It seemed fitting that we re-name the pantry Roberta’s Simply Essential Hygiene Pantry.”
Patrons are asked to bring a personal hygiene product to the Day of Caring Pancake Brunch. Collection boxes will be available at each site.
Here’s what they need:
- Shampoo, both travel and regular sizes
- Toothpaste, travel size and regular
- Toothbrushes – adult and child
- Bars of soap
- Deodorant, men and women’s
- Razors, men’s and women’s
- Shaving cream
- Wash cloths
- Feminine products.
- Toilet paper
Other ways to help:
More than 1,000 volunteers typically help out and members of the “Day of Caring” committee are now focused on increasing that number. They are especially hoping to recruit younger people. During the past 32 years, the project has received about $1 million of in-kind donations — from paper napkins and coffee to orange juice and plastic utensils.
In the next five years, Venkayya –who has been honored as a Woman of Influence by the YWCA– is hoping to expand her idea to Columbus and Cleveland as well as Michigan. She’s happy to report that since the project’s inception, $850,000 has been given to agencies ranging from The Foodbank and Habitat for Humanity to Green County Mobile Meals and St. Vincent De Paul.
Because of COVID, the organization is asking that donations be dropped off at the brunch sites this year. If you’d like to bring pantry items at other times throughout the year, you’re asked to call the “Day of Caring” offices at (937) 708-8011 or write to DayOfCaring20@gmail.com or check the website, www.dayofcaring.us
“Later this year we hope to have people contact Cindy Shiverdecker, our pantry director, through her email,” says Pax.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.