By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
God’s Food Pantry at Teverbaugh United Methodist Church is there for one reason only.
“There truly is a need out there,” said Betty Garrett, who has been with the pantry for about six years.
Up to 80 families a month get help here ... some food when they need it, clothing if there is some ... but always a kind and caring word.
“We talk to them and let them know someone cares. That’s important,” she said.
“It helps them become more relaxed to know they’re loved and we want to help.”
It is one of 11 food pantries benefiting from the Times West Virginian's Gift of Love food drive.
She knows it takes a lot of pride-swallowing to ask for help.
“A lot of people will not come here because of their pride. But we try to make them feel welcome and loved. We really do care.”
She’s only one of several people who help with the food pantry. Danny and Frances Toothman, Nellie and Richard Hardway, and Kathleen Sedio are among the many who help out.
“It doesn’t belong to any one person,” Garrett said.
“We’re here for everybody. Just like God is there for everybody.”
For the past eight years or so, the pantry has been helping those in need, but not just from the Four States area, Garrett said.
“They come from all over ... Lumberport, Shinnston, Joe Town, Mannington ... from all over. I don’t know why. We had one gentleman who said he didn’t feel comfortable at the one he went to. Some pantries ask for income, and some people may feel they don’t qualify.
“But we don’t do that. I don’t think that’s what we’re here for. If you're hungry, we do our best to help you.
“We’re here to help with no restrictions. If you do God’s work, He in turn blesses you and there is no need for all that information. People are here because they need to.
“As a church, I think that is what you're supposed to do.”
The pantry receives donations from the public and money from the North Marion Parish, she said.
“There are so many unsung heroes who donate. I don’t know what we’d do without them. So many are willing to help others. People are so good to us. One couple from Mannington brings us something different every week.
“We couldn’t survive without those donations,” Garrett said. “We’re a small congregation. The ones who are here, we do what we can. We wouldn't have poverty if everybody helped.”
That’s why just one can of soup, one box of cereal, one loaf of bread can help, she said.
“Give whatever you can give. Just give from the heart. Don’t do it for any other reason.”
The basics are given out: canned goods, peanut butter and jelly, hot and cold cereals, pastas. The only meat given out is tuna.
The Times West Virginian's Gift of Love has helped God’s Food Pantry tremendously.
“It’s given us things we can’t purchase on our own, so many different varieties of food. We give just the basis, what we can afford, for several meals. But the Gift of Love gives us so many extras we can work in. Something new, not just the same food items.”
There have been times the cupboard has almost been bare.
“And then donations come in,” she said. “It works that way. It’s meant to be.
“You don’t know when you will need that help. It’s good to see people and talk to them and let them know someone cares. That goes a long way.
“And you don’t know when you will need that help.”
To help God’s Food Pantry at Teverbaugh UMC and all the other agencies the Times West Virginian is collecting food for, here’s what you can do:
• Individuals are encouraged to bring boxes or bags of canned goods or nonperishable food items to our business office at 300 Quincy St. We will be collecting these items Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Thursday, Feb. 13.
• Businesses, schools or offices can set up satellite donation locations to collect items through Thursday, Feb. 13. We’ll even come and pick up all items collected.
• Community-service organizations, schools, school programs, churches or civic groups can take this on as a project. Again, anything you collect, we’ll pick up to be distributed with the other donations.
For more information on the Gift of Love, call the Times West Virginian’s newsroom at 304-367-2540.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.