MEDINA — If Feeding Medina County’s weekender bags were in existence when Mike Pace was growing up, he would have qualified for one.
Now a nurse manager at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, Pace went out of his way to volunteer to run the cereal donation program by the hospital’s nursing institute.
Adding some punch to the delivery of 620 boxes of cereal Tuesday, a Medina Life Support Team in an ambulance dropped off the shipment to Feeding Medina County, 650 W. Smith Road.
Pace grew up in Brunswick with a single mom. Money was tight and he qualified for the federally funded lunch program. He said he paid 30 cents for lunch, and his family used food stamps when they went to the grocery store.
He said he is not embarrassed about his past.
“It was part of what made me who I am today,” Pace said.
“I lived it firsthand,” he said. “It’s all about giving back. I grew up in a home that needed support. This is so gratifying from where I came.”
Pace said the hospital’s nurses far surpassed last year’s total of 180 boxes collected. Medina nurses collected 570 boxes. Those at Lodi Hospital chipped in with 50 more.
“To give back, it means so much,” he said. “We are taking care of our people (in Medina County).”
For a big hospital, Pace thought it could collect several hundred boxes for Feeding Medina County, and it did.
“I thought it was wildly successful,” he said. “I was thinking we might need two trucks. At our core, we are still very much a community hospital.”
Each nursing unit at the hospital collected cereal, which “drove up our success.”
Feeding Medina County Executive Director Sandy Hinkle said the cereal would be mostly included in the 1,030 weekender bags that go out every weekend to elementary students countywide. In each bag, there are three meals and snacks. Getting cereal was a change for the nonprofit organization. Peanut butter is most popular item donated.
Hinkle said Feeding Medina County gets no city, state or federal funding, so donations like this are well needed.
“It’s all the generosity of the people,” she said.
Hinkle said the weekender bags cost about $140,000 a year. United Way of Medina County donates $42,000 to the much-needed program.
She said some lady walked into the office earlier Tuesday and handed her a check for $500. She had heard about the program at church and wanted to lend a hand.
“We also feed 400 seniors once a month,” Hinkle said. “Most of the seniors are barely surviving.”