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New food pantry space honors life, legacy of beloved local teacher

Mitch Lambert taught in Kent, killed by driver in 2019
Mitch Lambert pantry.jpg
Posted at 4:53 PM, Dec 16, 2021

ROOTSTOWN, Ohio — The fingerprints of Mitch Lambert are all over Community Bible Church in Rootstown.

In the early 1980s, he was part of the construction crew that built the church.

He helped wire and run the audio visual room and was the worship leader. His base guitar that he played during Sunday services still rests in the sanctuary.

Lambert was also passionate in his support for the church's pantry which launched 15 years ago and supports more than 100 area families.

"Mitch just put his stamp on all of this," said Pastor Scott Hindel. "He was one of my best friends. For 24 years I've been here, and Mitch, he walked beside me from the time I was growing up in the ministry."

Away from his church, Lambert was a beloved chemistry teacher at Theodore Roosevelt in Kent.

"He really spoke to high schoolers in a way that helped them understand the importance of learning rather than the importance of a grade," said his daughter, Lizzy Boggs.

Lambert was also an avid cyclist and often rode his bike to and from the high school.

But in July of 2019, he was killed in a tragic accident.

While riding his bike to McDonald's, Lambert was hit by a Honda CR-V on Lynn Road. He was thrown from the bike and died at a hospital several days later.

"He was hit from behind so we're thankful that he never saw it coming," Boggs said.

The driver, who was 72-years-old at the time of the accident, was convicted. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail. All but 30 days were suspended. She also had to pay fine and her driver's license was suspended until 2025.

Pastor Hindel said he still feels the void caused by the loss of Lambert.

"My job is to put things into words, but this one is hard to put into words because Mitch was my mentor," Hindel said.

But sometimes actions speak louder than words and the congregation feels that is the case with the garage on the property that has been transformed into a new pantry.

It continues to fill up with food, including cereal, canned vegetable, potatoes, onions, peanut butter and jelly.

About $50,000 was raised to build the pantry that includes a walk-in freezer and a walk-in refrigerator.

The pantry will not only improve accessibility and the amount of food the organization can store, it will also serve as a lasting legacy to Lambert.

"He would love to see that something so amazing came out of this," Boggs said.

The pantry originally operated out of a cramped closet and then moved to a classroom, but the ministry outgrew its quarters.

On Dec. 19, a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the new pantry on Tallmadge Road.

Hindel believes the event is the perfect way to honor Lambert who cared deeply about helping others.

"To put this together has been absolutely amazing," he said.

Boggs has several tattoos on her arms that help keep her dad close to her heart, including one that shows the chemical compound for serotonin.

"He always told me to find the joy in everything," she said.

On Sunday, there will be plenty of joy at the pantry when many gather to honor the man who considered his church a second home.

Church members feel funds made the project possible, but faith made it happen.

"That shows the outpouring of his ripple effect and what he has done and what he did and how much everyone loved him," Boggs said.