PARMA, Ohio - Stretched budgets have caused many northeast Ohio families to struggle with putting food on the table, but one local organization is doing its part to help those need.
Community Ambassadors, a Christian-based non-profit group, opened the doors to Pay It Forward Cafe at Parmatown Mall in December.
"Fifty percent of kids in Parma City Schools are on free and reduced lunch," said Aaron Powell of Community Ambassadors. "That equates to be about 3,000 kids in the city of Parma that may not get a meal on the weekend."
The goal of Pay It Forward Cafe is to help fill that weekend gap.
Lunch is served every Saturday at noon, with local restaurants donating food weekly. The need, however, is for more than just a meal. Many people also come for fellowship, love and conversation.
"We want people to know the love that's in our hearts and share that," said Dona Kiner of Community Ambassadors.
The only fee for eating is that visitors fill out a card promising to do something nice for someone else. The card is then attached to the "Pay it Forward" wall inside the cafe.
"We want to see the people that come here, not just stay in a state of receiving. We want to see them get into a state of giving," said Powell.
Pay It Forward Cafe originated in Church In The Woods in Parma Heights. When the church closed, Community Ambassadors took over the ministry. Visitors are grateful for the hard work and generosity of others.
"We get to meet other people and are in with the community and fellowship with others," said Tonya DeBerry of Brooklyn.
"Without it, there's a lot of things we wouldn't learn," said Felicia Sims of Cleveland. "There's a lot of people we would not be able to share things with, so we are very grateful."
On Saturday, Feb. 25 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Parmatown Mall, Pay It Forward Cafe will hold its official ribbon cutting and open house. There will be live entertainment, prizes and games for the kids.
For more information on Community Ambassadors, follow this link: http://www.comamb.org
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