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Complete the Mission reports Marietta operation a success

Veterans line up to pack a truck with donations from Saturday’s Complete the Mission Food Drive. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

MARIETTA — This weekend’s Complete the Mission Food Drive was considered a success by all involved.

Veterans groups set up tents in The Marietta Times parking lot and goods and monetary donations were given to the Gospel Mission Food Pantry. More than a truckload of food and personal hygiene items were donated, along with $623 in cash and checks.

“It was a wonderful blessing and we can’t think (The Marietta Times) and all the veterans that made this such a huge success,” said Candy Waite, food pantry director.

Although Candy and Jeff Waite were unable to attend, the food pantry was represented at the event by Gary Sampson and Craig Moore.

Sampson said the pantry serves between 200 and 300 people a week and there’s a “daily flow” of people.

Jim Furr helps unpack food donations during the food drive Saturday. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

“Without the support of the community and food drives like this, we wouldn’t exist,” he said. “This area has a great love for helping neighbors.”

Sampson said people love the Waites because of their faith.

“They believe everything comes through God,” he said.

The pantry doesn’t just serve people from Marietta, it serves anyone in need.

“We don’t ask for ID and we don’t question why they’re there,” Sampson said.

A donation from American Legion Post 64 was received by Bernie Lyons, commanding officer of the Mid-Ohio Valley Platoon Marine Corps Veterans Association, Liberty Smith, 8, and Gunner Smith, 5. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

He noted they serve a lot of homeless, and “listening to their stories drives us to strive harder to help them.”

Before the pandemic, they were serving between 500 and 600 people a week, Candy said.

“We don’t want anyone without food. What a blessed community we live in,” she said. “Everyone has such kind hearts. I wish people could see the smiles…the hope it brings to people. It’s humbling to see how our community helps the Gospel Mission Food Pantry.”

She said much needed items are cereal, mac and cheese, soup, tuna, shampoo and dishwashing liquid.

“With the money, I’m going to focus on laundry detergent, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, toilet paper, SOS pads, things like that,” she said. “That way they can wash their hair, do their dishes and do some house cleaning.”

A truckload of food and personal hygiene supplies were donated by area residents during the Complete the Mission Food Drive Saturday. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

She said they try to use their money wisely and purchase what people tell them they need most.

“We wait until we have some extra money freed up to buy things like that,” she said.

Bernie Lyons, commanding officer of the Mid-Ohio Valley Platoon Marine Corps Veterans Association, which sponsored the event in conjunction with The Marietta Times, said he had hoped more veterans organizations would have participated.

“We got a late start this year,” he said. “We pick up and learn for next year.”

The U.S. Marine Corps Veterans Association and U.S. Marine Corps League Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment 1436 set up their tents and a dozen or so military veterans were on hand to greet people and unload the donations. Once the event was over, they banded together to pack up the goods for the trip to the food pantry.

Veterans from the U.S. Marine Corps Veterans Association and U.S. Marine Corps League Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment 1436 wait for donations during Saturday’s Complete the Mission Food Drive. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

“Thank you to all of the people who stopped by The Marietta Times to support our veterans groups and the food pantry,” said Jim Spanner, newspaper publisher. “It was a beautiful day in the Mid-Ohio Valley and our generous community came through like they always do.”

Along with the tents set up for donations, other tents were provided as veteran resources.

Traci Ford, registered nurse at the VA clinic said they gave 13 flu shots to veterans Saturday. Another drive-thru clinic for veterans will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Reno VA clinic.

Don King, Washington County Veterans Service Commission officer in financial assistance, set up a tent as part of their outreach program.

“A lot of veterans come through and donate food and this is an opportunity for us to do outreach to them and make them aware of the benefits that we provide at the office,” he said. Their office is at 706 Pike St. Suite 1, Marietta.

Veterans from the U.S. Marine Corps Veterans Association, U.S. Marine Corps League Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment 1436, VA Clinic and Washington County Veterans Service Commission met in the Marietta Times parking lot for a food drive to benefit the Gospel Mission Food Pantry. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

The VSC provides emergency financial assistance to help veterans or their dependents when they are in need. There is also a fleet of four vehicles used to transport veterans to medical appointments outside the City of Marietta, King explained.

“Places like Chillicothe, Cleveland, Columbus, or even Clarksburg, W.Va.,” he said. “VA has established clinics or hospitals where these veterans go for appointments and this saves them the responsibility of driving themselves.”

King said the biggest program at their office is filing claims for veterans and their dependents. They will file claims for VA compensation, when a veteran has a service connected injury.

“Our office files all the paperwork and collects all the evidence so that their claim is successful,” King said.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

***

* A second food drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel parking lot, 519 Juliana St.

* The Chick Crites Annual Veterans Food Drive will benefit Old Man Rivers and Disabled American Veterans Wood County Chapter 32 food pantries.

Don King, Washington County Veterans Service Commission officer, helps load a truck that will take donations to the Gospel Mission Food Pantry. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

Roy Wilcox gets a flu shot Saturday from Traci Ford, registered nurse from the VA Clinic, during Saturday’s Complete the Mission Food Drive. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

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