The Times West Virginian

February 21, 2014

Gift of Love food distribution evidence of county’s generosity: PHOTOS

By John Veasey
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Thirteen pallets of food were picked up Thursday as the 2014 Gift of Love food drive was closed out — thanks to the total generosity of Marion County residents who contributed more than $16,000 and literally “tons of food.”

The groups came in 30-minute intervals, and each was highly complimentary of the food drive itself and the people who donated as well as those who made it possible.

When volunteers from one food pantry had finished loading their truck, many times they stayed to help the next group load theirs.

The accolades were many. Some of them follow.

Royce Lyden, Central United Methodist chairperson, said all the food “is a real blessing. I’m just overwhelmed at the generosity of the people of Fairmont and Marion County.

“And I really appreciate the Times West Virginian for putting all this together. It’s a blessing to be a blessing to others. It’s a marvelous display of love.”

Bruce Roberts of the Fairmont-Marion County Food Pantry said “this food is a great help. We just thank the Times West Virginian — and each and every one who is involved in this. There is a lot need in Marion County. It’s just a blessing. It is just a blessing to us.“

Roberts said that “we give people food about once a month. We give them about a week’s supply of food. We have more than 800 clients. They don’t come every month, but most are eligible to come every month. So we’re able to feed the needy. That’s what it’s all about.”

Heather Hawkins, service center director of the Salvation Army, said that “this food means we will be able to assist countless families in our community.

“The need is Marion County is constantly rising, and this contribution of food couldn’t have come at a better time.”

“Every little bit helps,” said Gary Kendall, who led a group picking up food for the Mannington Food Pantry. “It doesn’t really matter how much. We can use it all. Before Christmas we were serving 450 to 500 families a month. It has slowed down a little bit now because of the weather. But every little bit helps.”

Mary Woodfork says the food contributions are “a real blessing.”

The director of the Fairview Food Pantry said she can’t find words to describe these things that people do.

“This will mean so much to the people who receive it,” she said. “It means so much to me that so many people found it in their heart to donate.”

Richard Hardway, says the food that God’s Food Pantry at Teverbaugh United Methodist Church received shows once again how people have come forward “to keep us going.”

He says “we average feeding about 20 families a week. And when people leave, others come in. We gave away about $20,000 in food last year.”

Tony Chipps, pastor of New Life Ministries and coordinator of Our Father’s Bread Basket, when asked what this donation meant for his food pantry, he immediately answered “a lot.”

He said his pantry “reaches between 150 to 200 people a month, and the food will help subsidize the food already in our food pantry and help people get along a little better. It means a lot to us.”

Nancy Lee represented the Worthington Wellness Food Pantry.

“This will enable us to continue our program of feeding the hungry in our community,” she said. “We feed about 50 families in a month’s time.”

The Worthington group has been in existence for about 20 years.

Bud Yoho, a representative of the Fairmont Soup Opera, said that his agency feeds around 100 persons a day. “Our numbers in the past year or two have increased.”

Yoho said that “we have a monthly food handout where people can come and take food home. This food will fill a real need.”

Norman Malson of the Shepherd’s Love Food Pantry pointed out how the food his pantry received will help in the months ahead.

“This will help us greatly. We’re averaging about seven boxes a month that we give out to people. And they are not small boxes either.

“The board members were amazed at the things you gave us. We sure want to thank the Times West Virginian.”

Danny Bainbridge says the Oakwood Road Church of Christ feeds about 40 families a week.

“There is a constant need — especially over the last several years,” he continued. “We are most appreciative of this food as it will help the people who come to our food pantry each month.”

Representatives of Fairmont State who picked up food for The Nest at the university did not feel qualified to speak on the subject.

Email John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.