Annual Send Help campaign underway in Mid-Ohio Valley

Photo by Peyton Neely Gospel Mission Food Pantry volunteer Tom Hoff, 68, of Reno, puts out more canned goods for the community during food pantry day

MARIETTA — Area residents can get involved in assisting hungry families and individuals during the season for giving by volunteering and donating to local food pantries.

The Send Help campaign is currently underway and asking residents for their contribution by sending in food, money and even clothing.

“We are always in need of children’s clothing but we accept every donation, nothing is too big or too small,” said Candy Waite, director of the Gospel Mission Food Pantry in Harmar.

The campaign, sponsored by The Marietta Times and WMOA, is designed to encourage residents to help the food pantries throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley by sending money or food, or even volunteering their own time.

“We accept all volunteers,” said Waite. “We have to rely and depend on the blessed volunteers of this community. If anyone is interested in being involved, give me a call.”

Waite also said anyone interested in volunteering can come to the Gospel Mission Food Pantry, located at 309 Lancaster St. in Marietta, on Monday at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

The campaign includes 13 food pantries in the area. A full listing of pantries, in addition to a clipping to make sending monetary donations easier to the pantry of choice, appears regularly in The Marietta Times. All monetary donations go directly to food for the pantry.

“It’s important to give back and it gives you a sense of feeling grateful,” said Gary Williams, co-chairman for the Christian Out Reach Board which oversees the Marietta Community Food Pantry. “This makes you realize that not everyone has what you may have and people need to be aware of that.”

Donations can be sent to Gospel Mission Food Pantry, Williamstown Food Pantry, 3-C Food Pantry, Western Washington County Food Pantry, Wood County Emergency Co-op, Newport Food Pantry, Belpre Area Ministries, Beverly-Waterford Food Pantry, Community Food Pantry of Marietta, L.A.M.B. Pantry, Tri-County Food Pantry, Marietta Church of God Food Pantry and New Matamoras Food Pantry.

“It’s just a way to give back to your community or neighborhood food pantry,” said Williams.

The Marietta Community Food Pantry will be accepting donations during the Merry-etta Lighted Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. today in downtown Marietta. The pantry will have a truck in the parade and will accept canned goods and will be passing out envelopes with the address printed on them for residents to send donations in with.

“The community may have no idea how serious food insecurity is in Washington County,” said Linda Steelman, director of the Marietta Community Food Pantry. “People need things all the time, not just during the holidays and it takes effort from the entire community.”

Linda Allen, director of the Western Washington County Food Pantry, said the Send Help campaign has made a significant difference on the people getting involved.

“This time of year, so many people come in who haven’t been in since maybe the beginning of the year,” she said. “We are always needing donations but cereal seems to be the thing we always run out of.”

Allen said with the cost of food increasing, pantries are now spending $45 to $50 per family.

“We had a guy come in who got a can of ravioli and right when he walked outside, opened it up and ate it with his fingers,” said Allen. “I don’t think people remember that this is an issue in our area.”

The Western Washington County Food Pantry has helped around 55 families this month, not including individuals who may come in themselves.

“We have anywhere from a single person to a family of 12 come in and need assistance,” said Allen. “We have been doing this so long and sometimes are forgotten about but it is so rewarding to be able to help the people within the community who need it.”

This food pantry serves the townships of Warren, Barlow, Decatur, Dunham, Fairfield, Palmer and Wesley.

“This campaign really helped last year compared to previous years,” said Allen. “It always makes a difference and brings awareness about the subject.”