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Tosa Cares: Serving the community for 15 years (Part 3)

Linda Ertel shares a third and final blog post of thoughts and photos on the early days of Tosa Cares. Read Parts 1 and 2 here!

As the years went on, Tosa Cares grew from an organization that served ​four​ families at

​its ​beginning in 2008 to a large scale operation that distribute​d​ food to 120-140 families

on Saturday​ mornings​ with the help of 50 volunteers​. ​Smaller numbers ​were served ​on

the Friday before and the Monday ​​following​ the Saturday distribution​. Clothing,

personal care and household items were ​added. Breakfast was served, and services such

as health and wellness checks, voter information, legal and other social services,

individual spiritual guidance and prayer were offered. ​By 2019, an average of 187

families​ were served ​per distribution.


Then ​came ​March of 2020…COVID​ hit​. Everything closed down – but the need​s​ ​of

families never stopped. How would families safely receive food​ with all the new

restrictions​? Large distribution ​Saturdays ​were no longer ​possible​. Like everything else,

Tosa Cares had to adjust. Closing down was not an option. 

Contact was made with our Tosa Cares families through hundreds​ of ​phone calls and

​mailed ​postcards. ​Appointments were made for each family for a food drive​-​up and pick

up. The community responded to ​the desperate need for food, clothing, and personal

care products. Contactless drop off times were created at churches, community places

and at Tosa Cares. Financial gifts were shared that allowed us to purchase needed

products. Generosity continued to fuel Tosa Cares and families were served in spite of

all the barriers the pandemic put in the way. Tosa​ ​Cares could​ and would​ not be

stopped! In 2020 – 186 families per distribution – and 1351 total family visits.

In 2021 – 230 families per distribution – 1843 total family visits. As the COVID numbers

were ​finally beginning to ​decrease​, families ​continued to drive up to receive their food​

​boxes, and were invited inside the building ​to select clothing items and additional food

choices. In 2022 Tosa Cares served an average of 261 families per distribution: that’s an

amazing 2085 ​total ​family visits!

Today, ​Tosa Cares continues to meet the many needs of those they serve. Inflation and

lessening of food share amounts​ have increased the demand for assistance. ​Food boxes

​are packed not only with non-perishable food, but also with fresh produce, meat, bread,

and toilet tissue. Diapers, feminine supplies, incontinence products, personal care items

like soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes and at times cleaning products and school supplies​

are offered​. ​Tosa Cares now occupies four entire rooms at Mount Zion Lutheran

Church! The number of families needing a helping hand continues to grow and the

community continues to respond.

Fall of 2022 ​has ​seemed like a reawakening of sorts – churches, schools and civic

organizations back doing product donations. Large scale events like Tosa Fest and the

Holiday Train came back to​ ​Tosa. More volunteers are coming to the pantry to help.​ 

​God is good. One thing the pandemic could not change: caring for one another still matters; and Tosa Cares is still at the heart of it.

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