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New mission: Food pantry helps military families in Berks County

New mission: Food pantry will help military families

ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - More and more soldiers are coming home from serving our country in need of assistance to get them back on their feet. That is why one Berks County organization is offering free assistance to them and their families.

"It is always that feeling of despair when you do not know where your kids' next meals are coming from," said Mia Cotto, food pantry recipient and volunteer.

Mia Cotto and her six-year-old daughter, Teagan, are just one of the many military families in need in Berks County.

She started going to the Keystone Soldiers Food Pantry at 130 Redner's Way in Ontelaunee Township. It is a free service that allows military families to stock up on groceries.

"When I came here and started helping with Kyle, It was a real eye opener that it was not just me that needed that extra help," said Cotto.

Kyle Lord started the food pantry about a year ago. Her son started serving in the Army National Guard 16 years ago and she felt a calling to help.  So she started by sending care packages, but recently began to see a need to help families right here at home in Berks County.

"When we went from 12-15 families a month to maybe 10 a week that needed help, we knew there was an even greater need and we were going to have to expand this mission," said Lord, director of Keystone Soldiers.

So with the help of the Keystone Wounded Warriors, they started expanding the food pantry to feed more families.

Walter Wampole and his fiance, Cheryl Schadler, use the service. Without the help from the food pantry, they would have to spend about $600 a month just to feed their six children.

"I think it is great. I think a lot more people need to know about it because it has helped us out a lot," said Schadler.

That is why Lord would encourage any military families in need to stop by for assistance. You just have to show your military ID to shop in the pantry for free.

The pantry is also always accepting donations on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

If you would like to know more about the Keystone Soldiers and the food pantry, you can stop by on Saturday, June 28 from 11 a.m. 2 p.m. for an open house.

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