HILLIARD, Ohio - Volunteers worked around the clock to help get the Hilliard Food Pantry back on its feet. This is happening as the State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigations Bureau works to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed part of the building where it was located.  

What You Need To Know

  • Hilliard Food Pantry celebrated its 60th anniversary

  • It serves over 400 families each week

  • The pantry is seeing an increase of new people since the fire 

  • While smoke and water mostly damaged the pantry itself, volunteers aren’t sure if they’ll be able to go back to their location

It was rough for Lindsey Berrigan to watch a series of firefighters pull in to battle the fire in Hilliard. She said they weren’t allowed for hours to see what was happening in the back of the building where everything was housed.

As the hours passed and they began to think about all of the things they would lose in the fire, Berrigan said she knew that it was big.

“This is devastating and not something that’s gonna be a quick comeback,” she said. Once they could come around back, Berrigan said they saw the doors to the warehouse a bit mangled. That hit really hard. Berrigan said they just “knew that it would be the end of a chapter and it would push them to the start of a new chapter.” 

That new chapter would begin with donations pouring in before the fire was extinguished. “It’s been amazing… that support and community outreach has been overwhelming…which started within the first two hours of the fire as donations started pouring in,” she explained. Those donations along with food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank helped volunteers open up a pop-up pantry in their parking lot within days of the fire.

At first, they were only able to offer food and toiletries in a limited fashion, but once a refrigerated truck was donated, it put them in a better position to offer most of what they’d offered previously. Berrigan said while they’d seen an increase of those needing assistance after the pandemic, news of the fire boosted their presence. “We’ve also seen new families who never knew we were here until they saw the fire on the news,” she said. 

Despite the increase, they managed, while trying to figure out where they’d go next. They quickly found a temporary location at Guide Church. Volunteers from the community helped get the pantry set up within a short period without leaving much of a gap, if any.

While the pantry waits to hear about the cause of the fire, thoughts about what they’ll do for their August toy drive hang in the balance since what was collected was destroyed in the fire. Those same thoughts are already looming about Thanksgiving dinner and the impact it could have later this year.