12/31/2015 – West Side Leader
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Formerly Homeless Foundation, started by Cuyahoga Falls developer Joel Testa, provided meals for some people who are homeless Dec. 20. According to Testa, this third annual event included volunteers, shown at right, gathering to create 1,500 bagged lunches that were delivered to Community Support Services and other agencies for distribution to men, women and children in need. Testa added the lunches included sandwiches using 140 loaves of bread donated by Schwebel’s Bakery and fillings donated by Gennesaret, as well as fruit, dessert, candy and a beverage. The lunch bags were decorated by children volunteers to add a festive touch, according to Testa.

Testa and DBA restaurant partners Dante Boccuzzi, Morgan Yagi and Dave Sharp also served a Christmas dinner of pasta e fagioli, pork osso buco and chocolate chip caramel crusted cheesecake to 100 people who are homeless at the restaurant, located in Akron’s Northside district.

New this year, a gift was distributed to each guest at the dinner.

In addition, the foundation collected clothing over a period of weeks and delivered the items to a store at The Commons at Madaline Park, which sells items for a nominal cost or through a work exchange program.

“One of the reasons that these events get bigger each year is because we have more volunteers,” said Testa. “We do this at Christmastime to provide a family experience to those who don’t have it and to create an easy way for people to give back. So many people want to do something like this, and this event gives people an opportunity to do so.”

Testa said that in addition to assistance from various organizations, items for both the events come from donations and fundraisers presented by the foundation.