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Pickerington Food Pantry deals with possible domain hack

Vanessa Niekamp says the issue was spotted quickly, which allowed her team to take appropriate actions to fix the problem.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — “We’ve got families and seniors who have to make a choice between medication, food and a gift for a loved one,” Vanessa Niekamp said.

Niekamp is the executive director of the Pickerington Food Pantry. She says 75 meals have been delivered to clients ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving. She’s extra thankful after a recent technical snag.

“It adds a lot of confusion during the holiday season,” Niekamp said.

She says her staff recently noticed emails were not coming in. 

“[Our domain] wasn’t able to either communicate with the Google account or potentially it might have been hacked,” she said.

Niekamp says their GoDaddy domain, including three internal emails and their website, wasn’t responding. It lead them to secure a new domain to re-establish with donors, clients and about 100 volunteers.

“You don’t know what somebody needs until you talk to them,” Ryan Max said.

Max also helps with that food pantry need. He’s a school counselor with Pickerington Schools and says part of his job is talking to students about what’s going on at home and connecting them and their families to different community organizations like the food pantry, and the local toy drive hosted by the Violet Township Fire Department.

“It’s something that sometimes feels like a big ask, but there’s always somebody who wants to provide that help,” he said.

Niekamp says the issue seemed to be caught quickly, allowing them to not let it linger during the holidays. She says the pantry will deliver around 75 meals to clients for Christmas, as well. She encourages anyone and everyone who might still be thinking about volunteering to do so.

“This time of year I think people start to think a little bit more about others who might not have it as fortunate as them and so there are people who start to join volunteering around this time,” she said.

Niekamp says money donations are a huge part of giving, as the Pickerington Food Pantry is able to turn every dollar into $11 worth of food through the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

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