The 26th annual benefit concert for the Open Food Pantry is set for 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Zion Lutheran Church, 212 S. Front St. in Hamilton. This year’s event will also include a tribute to a longtime volunteer who died this year.
The Open Door Pantry was founded more than 30 years ago by the late Mildred Whitehead and Dave Belew, a stalwart in the community who has organized every benefit concert since the very first one in 1992.
“The concert is the pantry’s only fundraiser each year,” Belew said. “The money raised provides a substantial portion of its budget.”
More than 200 musical acts have performed at the concert over the years, as several local acts have hit the stage to offer solo and group performances.
This year, vocal soloists will include Bess-Arlene Comacho along with Janie Cochran and Mark Peters. Alex and Evan Danielson, two pianists from Oxford, are also on the program.
“We have some very talented people performing this year and are hoping for a good turnout,” Belew, who will play the piano at the concert as well, said. “We also have Hamilton’s oldest band, the Klaberheads, opening the concert.”
Paul Stanberry, who directs the Butler Philharmonic and is also the music director at Zion Lutheran, will play the organ at the concert.
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This year’s event is being dedicated to the memory of Howard Green, a food pantry volunteer for 31 years, who died in May at the age of 94.
“He started out as a volunteer at the pantry, then was a board member and then president,” Belew said. “He was so active with the pantry and everybody knew how much he cared about the community. People remember him for making runs on the weekend to pick-up items to stock the pantry with.”
He added, “Howard bought his last car — a Dodge minivan — in order to pick-up donated bread from grocery stores in the area to bring to the food pantry.”
It’s that type of spirit that Mike Samoviski, president of the pantry board, wants to see continue so the pantry can always fulfill its mission.
“The pantry has served many thousands of people since its founding in 1981,” he said. “It is dependent upon donations for its operation. The mission is to help in am emergency, temporary basis and to teach self-help to those in need.”
The concert is free and there will be what Belew calls a “free-will offering” at the event. He said if anybody can’t attend but would like to donate funding they can send an offering to the Open Food Pantry, 800 S. Front St. Hamilton, OH 45011, with the envelope marked “benefit concert.”