Need is greater than ever
In February 2011, the Morgan County Community Education Outreach Service (CEOS), a statewide organization under the auspices of WVU Extension Service, initiated a project to fill the shelves at the local food pantry with healthy food choices and personal hygiene items.
The organizations targeted to participate which agreed to donate a specific item once a month have been incredibly generous. We are surprised however that more churches in the county have not participated. In addition, two of the largest employers declined to participate. The goal of the project was to help with food costs so utility bills, prescription medication, rent assistance and other needs could be met.
Those costs have increased dramatically this past year. More than $37,000 was paid for utilities (electricity, fuel, gasoline, water and sewer) from McEAT coffers in 2011, the biggest expense by far. The Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Society and Department of Health & Human Resources share in this effort.
In November 2011, a record was set for the highest number of requests for food in one month. Volunteers at McEAT are dedicated to assisting those requesting help and often dip into their pockets to supply personal hygiene items. Just imagine how many bottles of baby shampoo at a cost of $1.50 at the Dollar General two large employers could have collected.
Nine local churches contribute money or food items or both on a regular basis. Are there only nine churches in Morgan County? Every donation makes a difference, small or large. If you are reading this but do not belong to any of the participating organizations which include CEOS, Lions, Master Gardeners, First United Methodist Church and the 55+ Luncheon group, you could start one like the ladies group of 20 who meet once a month or the Red Hat group who started a “monthly gathering and giving effort.”
One of the McEAT volunteers belongs to both groups and knows what is needed and what cannot be purchased with the “Smart Card” (food stamps).
Visit McEAT beside St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and see for yourself what is stocked regularly and what is needed which cannot be purchased with the Smart Card, such as toilet paper or laundry detergent or that shampoo I referred to earlier.
The food pantry is open Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number is 304-258-2487.
Joyce H. Altomare