The numbers are staggering.
As pointed out in an article in this week’s Parade magazine, featured in today’s Times West Virginian, more than 50 million Americans, including one in five children, don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.
However, it’s more than numbers. Much more. Consider the people behind the numbers. It makes the message even more powerful.
Howard G. Buffett, a Midwestern farmer and philanthropist who is the son of billionaire Warren Buffett, is a leading figure working to reduce hunger in America.
How did he get involved? The impact of personally seeing an individual case.
“Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse,” he said in the Parade interview. “In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it. I was in Tucson at a food distribution (center) and noticed a woman walk in with three kids. She looked around and then walked back out. I later found out it was the first time she had ever asked for help, and she was embarrassed.”
Right here in Marion County, numerous organizations and individuals take up the fight against hunger virtually every day.
They see more than numbers. They are familiar with the people and the families that want to take care of themselves but are struggling.
“I guess a lot of things are going to have to change government-wise to get things back in order and get things under control,” Bruce Roberts, president of the Fairmont-Marion County Food Pantry, said. “We don’t like to think of our neighbors or our family members going hungry, but that’s something that happens every day, so those that are lucky need to help the ones that are less fortunate.”
Roberts said that last year the food pantry served a total of 6,060 people. That number has already been surpassed in 2012.
“I think that the times are a little tougher and the prices of food and things have gone up,” Roberts said. “People just can’t hardly make it on minimum income.”
Colleen Morris, director of the Mannington Food Pantry, said that it serves more than 1,000 people per month.
“There are a lot of people out of work, a lot of people getting their hours cut back, losing their jobs and having a hard time making ends meet,” Morris said.
Shelia Skidmore, director of the Soup Opera in Fairmont, believes that this year it will serve around 2,000 more people than it did last year.
“The numbers are climbing,” she said. “People really need extra help even if they’re working a part-time job or two minimum-wage jobs. You just can’t make it on that, so they come in here for supplements.”
Fortunately, as we’ve said many times, Marion County is a generous community.
“One thing about this community is that it’s just absolutely wonderful in helping people,” Skidmore said. “I’m not sure what else the community itself could be doing; they’re helping everybody that they can.”
Buffett tells a story about a kid walking down a beach where hundreds of starfish have washed up to illustrate the point.
“An old man asks what he's doing,” he said. “The kid says he’s throwing the starfish back so they won’t die. The old man says he can’t possibly save all of them, but the kid picks another one up, throws it in the ocean, and says, ‘Well, I saved that one.’ So there are times with this issue when we must think big, but we also can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s still one person at a time.”
The numbers are staggering.
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
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- State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core