Albion parks program welcomes more contributors for kids’ lunches this summer

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 3 July 2023 at 10:48 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Supporters of Albion’s summer recreational program at Bullard Park gathered Friday to issue a request to the community for help in feeding the approximately 100 children who attend every day. From left are John Grillo, village of Albion Recreation director; Jeff Holler, member of Albion’s Masonic Renovation Lodge; Ykeeta Wilson and her husband, pastor Al Wilson with the Royal Body Shop Outreach Ministries; Nicole Holler; Kyle Webb, member of the Masons; and Annette Finch, Grillo’s sister and volunteer at the program.

ALBION – A group of community members who support Albion’s Summer Recreation Program have joined forces to provide lunches for children attending the program.

John Grillo, Albion’s Recreation director, joined with Pastor Al Wilson from the Royal Body Shop Outreach Ministries and his wife Ykeeta, Jeff Holler and Kyle Webb from Albion’s Masonic Renovation Lodge and Grillo’s sister Annette Finch in asking anyone in the community to help provide lunches for the children any day from Monday through Friday until the park’s program ends on Aug. 4.

There are 146 children registered for the program so far, with an average daily attendance of 100 the first week, Grillo said.

“Many of these kids got free breakfast and lunch during school, and that was the only meal they had in a day,” Finch said.

Now some of those children go to a refrigerator outside Arnold’s Auto Parts on West Bank and Liberty Street to get food available for free. The Royal Body Shop Outreach Ministries keeps the refrigerator stocked with food. Valerie Atwell and Vickie Elsenheimer have been in charge of keeping a dozen to 20 bag lunches there every day.

Any church or organization who would like to help with a meal can contact Lisa DeCarlo at Arnold’s Auto Parts.

“My goal is to make this program better every year,” Grillo said about summer recreation in the village.

Finch commended the Wilsons and their Royal Body Shop Outreach Ministries for the support they have given the Albion community, along with the Albion Masons, Wendy Rivera (who donated $100 for pizza), and Arnold and Sandy DeCarlo, who also donated $100. Thanks also went to the Goodness Program in Buffalo, who donated drinks and snacks.

Finch contacted Foodlink in Rochester, who donated beverages and snacks.

The volunteers are now trying to collect enough donations to have tacos in a bag for lunch on a Tuesday.

Since starting their ministries in Albion a year and a half ago, Pastor Wilson said they have spent $40,000 on “spreading the love” in Albion. This includes special events and free food at Easter, Christmas, a Halloween “Trunk and Treat” event at the Arnold Gregory complex and continuing efforts to feed the homeless.

“Collaboration is the key,” Ykeeta said. “Our goal is to reach a broader population so we can help all those in need.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation toward food can log on to Cash App/Royal Body Shop or stop at Arnold’s Auto Parts.

Grillo also reminds the public of the Kids’ Carnival scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 19 at Bullard Park. The Masons and Royal Body Shop will be providing free hot dogs, French fries and drinks. Children are welcome from all over the area, he said.