CINCINNATI -- One might think being a single mother of four, working toward a degree and volunteering around the Millvale community would be more Chevelle Clayton could deal with.
It isn't. Not by a long shot.
Clayton, who knows firsthand the need that exists among her friends and neighbors, spent Tuesday morning cleaning and organizing in preparation for the Jan. 26 launch of her passion project: Heart 2 Heart Food Pantry.
"I can feel what it feels like to be hungry and not have enough or be a single parent and not be able to feed your family," she said. "I'm giving back what was given to me. The more that we give, the more can be given."
According to Clayton, Millvale is a food desert and many of its residents grapple with poverty that prevents them from either purchasing good food or traveling to a place where it would be more available.
An encounter with the community improvement group People's Liberty inspired her to begin outlining the idea for Heart 2 Heart, and a $500 grant from the organization helped her begin to make the food pantry a reality. In the 10 months between that award and Tuesday, she received food safety and management training from the University of Cincinnati and petitioned the Cincinnati Recreation Commission for space to house the project.
The next two weeks of setup, cleaning and soliciting more donations will bring some of the biggest challenges and -- hopefully -- most exhilarating successes since Clayton embarked on her mission to feed hungry families like her own.
She has faith in her own ability to succeed and in Heart 2 Heart's capacity to grow into an organization that can provide even more services, including delivery to customers who lack the time or independence to make a trip down to the building.
"I feel so blessed," she said. "I feel like every lesson in my life has led me to this point. It's only because of God's grace that I'm here to tell my story."
Anyone wishing to make a donation to Heart 2 Heart Food Pantry can contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 513-570-8826.