“To serve, not to judge.”
For 23 years, the Fairmont-Marion County Food Pantry has operated under this philosophy, feeding the hungry as much as it can.
Its hours are 9 a.m.-noon every Wednesday.
“We serve anybody in need in the whole county,” said director Bruce Roberts.
It is located at 107 Jefferson St., beside the Union Mission, but is separate from that entity, he said.
“We have our own individual pantry.”
All that’s asked of clients is that they bring proof of income, he said.
“But there’s no official records. So much of it, we take their word for it. Most of our clients are laid off, unemployed. They’re scraping pretty close to the bottom.
“There are so many people who are really desperate and in need of food. We’re happy to be able to furnish a lot of that.”
The pantry is one of 11 food banks participating in this year’s Gift of Love food drive sponsored by the Times West Virginian.
They give out a combination of foods, like the frozen turkeys they gave away for Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus nonperishables like cereal “and plenty of bread and sweets,” he said.
One main source of food is the Mountain State Food Bank in Gassaway. Donations are also gladly accepted from the public. It can always use canned foods like fruits and vegetables, dried beans, mac and cheese, noodles, canned tuna, and peanut butter and crackers, “a staple especially if you have kids,” Roberts said.
“It seems like we buy more every year, but there are a lot of good people in Marion County who support us. We are truly thankful. It’s so great that the people of Marion County feel for the less fortunate.
“You never know when it’s going to be you. But that’s what we’re supposed to be doing anyhow, helping people out when you have the chance,” he said.
“Every year the numbers go up. If someone is in need, we need to give. I don’t want to save that money. We need to invest in the people who need it.
“In 2012, we served 7,200 people. In 2013, it was 7,782.”
Everything is given away, “absolutely for free,” he said.
“And it’s worth it. There have always been people in need all throughout time. We’ve been blessed with plenty and we’re supposed to share that plenty. We’re supposed to be serving people.
“There are some great organizations and people in Marion County.”
“I’m sure some of our families visit the other food pantries in the county. There are those families who need it.
“If you have it, you should share. Especially for children. They didn’t ask to be brought into that environment. Families may have fallen on hard times and are trying to make it on their own.”
The Fairmont-Marion Food Pantry also gets help fromm some local churches, he said, including Monumental United Methodist, Fleming Presbyterian and Bethesda Baptist.
The food pantry can also use volunteers, he said.
“If you can’t help during the day, maybe at night you can help stock the shelves, he said.
“Scholarships are available for kids who do so much community help,” he added.
“We will continue our work as long as there is a need.”
To help the Fairmont-Marion County Food Pantry and all the other food pantries 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.
“To serve, not to judge.”
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