GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio - The Nelson Garrettsville Food Cupboard continues to regroup thanks to generous donations a month after the pantry was destroyed by a massive fire.
The latest act of kindness was delivered Thursday by Ohio Lottery officials which donated nearly one ton of food to a temporary pantry warehouse in Hiram.
The food was collected over the last three months by fans who participated in live studio audiences of the Cash Explosion show.
"It just happened to be timing that what happened in Garrettsville happened when we had food that was ready to be delivered to a food bank," said Danielle Frizzi-Babb, spokesperson for the Ohio Lottery.
The founders of the pantry, Mike and Michele Elias, were extremely grateful for the donation and pointed out that more families have come forward asking for food since the fire. The estimate the number of families served will increase from 225 to 300.
"We're finding that people who didn't realize we were there are now starting to come," Mike Elias said.
"We never expected this type of outpouring of support and we're just overwhelmed and so very, very grateful," Michele Elias added.
13 businesses were destroyed by the fire that lit up Downtown Garrettsville in March.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal listed the cause as "undetermined," but could not rule out the ignition of roofing materials from workers making repairs.
The founders said 8,000 food items were lost to the flames. With donations still pouring in, the pantry now has about 24,000 items.
"We had a two-and-a-half week supply of food at the time of the fire and now we have, certainly with all the donations we've received, I can comfortably say we've got at least a three to four month supply of food here," Michele Elias said.
Cash donations have also helped the pantry triple the amount it had in its account prior to the fire.
The couple said they hope to rebuild in the same downtown location within 18 months.