The actual work of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry won't begin at a new home on Bauer Boulevard for a few more weeks, but on Sunday, people from across the St. Louis area and the state converged on Creve Coeur to pay tribute to the couple responsible for making it happen.
The Max and Drew Erlich Center was celebrated in style, complete with proclamations and speeches from Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, State Representative Jill Schupp and others, including 2nd District U.S. House candidate Ann Wagner and Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder.
Max and Drew Erlich made a $1 million donation to Jewish Family and Children's Services, announced earlier this year, to help complete the transition of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry to a new home as the agency outgrew space at Schuetz Road. The pantry now serves an estimated 5,000 customers each month, of all faiths, from across the St. Louis region.
All other Jewish Family and Children's Services functions will remain at the Schuetz Road location.
Max Erlich, who at 92 still remains actively involved as President of Erlich Cleaners & Laundry Company, was very matter-of-fact after the generosity of his gift was acknowledged in public.
"People need help. I was fortunate enough to make a little extra money in my lifetime so I'm happy to give it to a great cause," he said.
Sunday afternoon's event included entertainment, and a children's painting area, as well as an opportunity to stock the shelves at the new location. Volunteers were busy taking in donations and giving tours.
The event drew politicans from both sides of the spectrum but event organizers stressed there were no political calculations in the guest list. Glenn Koenen, the former Executive Director of Circle of Concern, a non-profit that runs a food pantry in St. Louis County, is running against Wagner for the 2nd district Congressional seat and was not invited to the event.
Fred Steinbach, an Olivette public relations executive involved with the event, said including Wagner and Kinder in the event had everything to do with personal relationships the two have had with organizers over time, as well as who they thought would be able to attend the event.
Kinder made the only reference one might deem political, in mentioning an admonition by a member of the audience to keep a tax credit in place that has helped the organization.