CareSource to spend $150K to feed children/seniors; build playhouses

CareSource, the Dayton-based nonprofit health plan celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, on Wednesday announced two major charitable initiatives totaling $150,000.

Under one program, the CareSource Foundation will donate $100,000 to five regional Ohio Food Bank agencies to feed 25,000 children, seniors and residents with chronic diabetes through its food backpack and distribution program.

The food banks — including The Food Bank of Dayton and Freestore in Cincinnati — are the largest in the state and represent 24 counties in Northeast Ohio, Mid-Ohio and West Ohio, CareSource officials said.

Each food bank will receive $20,000 to fill backpacks with such items as cereal bars, milk, green beans and fruit snacks that children who rely on subsidized school lunches for much of their nutritional needs can take home over the weekends.

“We consider CareSource to be hunger heroes in our community,” said Michelle Riley, CEO of the Dayton food bank. “They aren’t just giving because of their 25-year anniversary, they’ve already given us $25,000 for our freezers and coolers. And they also gave us $160,000 for patient navigator food boxes that go to people that are home bound and can’t access the pantries.”

Also as part of its mission to help the underserved, CareSource has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton to build 25 children’s playhouses for placement in centers that provide care to needy children in Montgomery and Greene counties.

The foundation has donated $50,000 for the playhouses — 20-square-feet roofed houses made of wood and composite and colorfully painted — that will be built June 28 in the Welcome Stadium parking lot in Dayton.

In addition, CareSource is encouraging its employees to generate 2,500 acts of kindness by initiating good deeds throughout the local community intended to inspire others to pay the acts forward.

CareSource has distributed a commemorative token to be used as a reminder to initiate a good deed and to pass it on, and “Pay It Forward” messages are being collected and posted to and on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.