By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
If you’re in need of some help stretching your food dollars to the end of the month, you have a friend in the Mannington Food Pantry.
Located at 811 East Main St., Mannington, it provides a five-to-seven-day supply of nonperishable foods.
It is one of 11 food pantries to benefit from the Times West Virginian's Gift of Love food drive.
“Most of our clients are from the Mannington area, and some are from Wetzel County,” said executive director Colleen Morris.
That bag of pastas, bread, peanut butter, and canned fruits and vegetables is enough to help most families who find themselves running a little short, she said.
“This adds staples to their diets,” she said.
“This gives enough where you could also stretch it to six or seven days if you had to.”
Occasionally, when they have it, the pantry volunteers also give out milk, cereal, and pastry or sweets.
“We get most of our food from the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway,” she said.
“And if there is something we need that we didn’t get, we buy at a local store.”
Sometimes food seems to run a little thin.
Gift of Love donations helps the food pantry stretch its larder even farther.
“It helps us get through to the end of the month until we get the next food shipment. We serve from 360 to 370 families a month,” she said.
Even more importantly, your Gift of Love donations help the food pantry save money by providing food it doesn’t have to buy.
“We still have to pay for the food from Gassaway, even though it’s cheaper,” Morris said.
“I don’t know how some people survive without food pantries,” she said. “A lot live on fixed income or sometimes no income. They get very little on Social Security.
“Food pantries are so vital to their survival, especially if they have children.
“They are really necessary for a lot of families.”
Many of their clients are new, she said.
“A lot are families just moving in.”
But whether new or regulars, the number of clients keeps at a steady 370 or so a month.
“Now these are families, not individuals,” she said.
The Mannington Food Pantry is open every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon. It also gives out household items and clothing.
“Everything is free,” Morris said.
Clients must fill out an application, and provide a photo I.D., SSN and proof of income, such as a check stub or bank statement.
“Something that proves how much they receive,” Morris said.
“We also ask how much they get in food stamps. And we ask if they get help from other agencies in the county. But if they do, this won’t disqualify them.
“It’s just nice to know if they get help with their gas bill, things like that.”
She has been director since 2005. Before this, she was a volunteer.
“I loved the work and when they were looking for a new director, they asked me to apply and I did, and got it.”
The pantry is run by the Ministerial Association of Mannington.
“On Fridays, we pack nonperishable kid-friendly snacks for about 95 at-risk kids at Blackshere every week but Christmas week.”
The pantry also runs The Cross, a soup kitchen, that’s open Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
“You can come in, get your groceries and get a hot meal.”
The all-volunteer organization is also helped by local churches.
“We are called to take care of those in need. All are welcome to our table,” Morris said.
“We are run by the community. Volunteers are the heart of the food pantry.”
Even one can of soup helps, she said.
“If everyone gave a thread, the poor man would have a shirt.”
“If everyone gave just one can, we’d have a lot of cans.”
To help the Mannington Food Pantry 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.