The holidays are a time for cheer and joy with family and friends, and being thankful for the comforts of home. For the residents of Northern Kentucky who need extra help Be Concerned Inc. is there to assist them. The nonprofit is a year-round food pantry serving Kenton and Campbell counties, operating two thrift stores and offering grand scale holiday programs.

Founded in 1968 as The Christmas Store, the organization served holiday goods to about 30 families in Covington. The organization has grown since its founding, and is an important resource for hundreds of families. “We serve about 800 families a month right now,” says Andy Brunsman, executive director of Be Concerned. “They supply themselves with about 50 pounds of groceries from canned goods and frozen meat to seafood, eggs and fresh produce.”

In addition to the free food pantry, there is a thrift store inside with clothing and housewares sections. Operating at the same time as the food pantry, the thrift store is open to the general public, says Brunsman, and all items are donated to the organization. The items are sold at extremely low prices, and the money from the stores goes back into running the programs. 

Be Concerned began as an all-volunteer organization, says Brunsman, and is still primarily run by volunteers with only four paid staff, two of them full-time and about 12 volunteers who come in every day. The community can be involved with the organization by having food drives.

“We have volunteer opportunities in the Thanksgiving program in the first two weeks of November, and in the Christmas Store that runs the first two weeks of December,” says Brunsman. “This will be our 48th Christmas store this year.”

During the Christmas program visitors can get their usual food from the free food pantry, and for $3 per family member they can shop around in the Christmas Store, says Brunsman. The organization trades out the usual frozen meat for either turkey or ham based on family size, and also supplies cranberry jelly and instant mashed potatoes. 

“They can shop around in the Christmas Store for gifts for themselves, free branded toys for kids under 15 years old and additional food items,” says Brunsman.

Be Concerned caters to foods of a holiday meal in the Christmas Store, and also offers hygiene and personal supplies for everybody in the soup kitchen. New this year is a senior home delivery food program, which began in late summer. Be Concerned Inc. partners with two senior living facilities in Ludlow and Covington.

“Once a month we go and deliver food to the residents and young professionals who work there for them,” says Brunsman.

Whether it is a holiday meal or getting help to get gifts for loved ones, Be Concerned brings needed Christmas-time cheer to community members in need.