Season for giving
The Season of Goodwill Toward Men is again upon us. Each year, we encourage you to show that goodwill by doing what you can to help others. The need is great. For those who already have trouble putting food on the table and paying bills, winter makes everything even tougher.
Feed the hungry
Once again. the McEAT food pantry tops our list. Short for Morgan County Assistance Team, McEAT began in the early 1980s recession and has been aiding local people for 30 years. Today it operates under the umbrella of Morgan County Interfaith Emergency Care.
Totally run by volunteers, the food bank provides canned goods and staples to individuals and families. They also help folks struggling with fuel and electricity bills and family emergencies.
McEAT’s biggest need is always cash, and that need looms larger than ever. Indeed, they are in dire straits. As of the end of October, they were operating about $30,000 in the red for the calendar year. They had already bought nearly $21,000 worth of food, more than twice than in the same period of 2011. Sadly, their donations from the public were off by about $10,000.
Monetary donations allow them to buy food in bulk and have more flexibility in meeting people’s needs. But if you prefer to give food, think in terms of non-perishables and staples like canned soups and vegetables, 1 lb. bags of rice, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, fruit, cereal, saltines and pork & beans. These are the types of things that are generally given out.
Donations may be sent to McEAT, P. O. Box 988, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411. For more information about specific needs, call 304-258-2487.
Make lives better
Another way of making Christmas brighter for families is through Starting Points. This local agency has an “Adopt A Family” project in which donors typically give an outfit for a child, plus a food basket or grocery store gift certificate for a family that can use it.
Starting Points also operates the Meal Time Community Kitchen, which had provided 18,622 meals to people by the end of October. That’s an 18% increase over last year. Those fed include more children and family groups.
In addition, Starting Points oversees the Backpack Program, which currently fills the backpacks of 233 young people with prepackaged foods for weekends when they don’t get free school meals.
The group also has a “Books Under the Tree” program in which kids can choose from books that are donated. The idea is that if they own books and have a home library, they will become better readers.
For more information about “Adopt A Family” or other Starting Points programs, call 304-258-5600, or visit their office at 292 North Washington Street, Berkeley Springs.
If you make a donation via check and would like it earmarked for Meal Time Community Kitchen, Backpack Kids or a specific project, write the name of the program on the memo line. Otherwise, the money will be used for the greatest need at the moment.
Making sure kids get presents at Christmastime continues to be the goal of Toys 4 Tots, run locally by the Berkeley Springs Lions Club in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps.
New, unwrapped toys are sought for children of all ages. Collection boxes are at Autumn Acres, BB&T Bank, Berkeley Springs High School, Clark’s and CNB Bank as well as American Legion posts and Dollar General stores in both Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw.
The toys, along with “Books Under the Tree,” will be given out at the annual Toys 4 Tots’ Christmas party on Friday, December 14.
Cash donations may be sent until December 21 to Toys 4 Tots, 650 Mawani Village Lane, Berkeley Springs. For more details or to have toys picked up, call Kim Mason at 304-258-6835.
Or you can contact the U.S. Marines in the Eastern Panhandle by calling Scott Stulb at 304-268-0098.
Even if you have no money to spare, you can contribute your time and effort to the community by helping a neighbor or getting involved with a volunteer or charitable organization.
Sowing charitable donations and helping others will reap you a crop of the holiday goodwill that the Christmas season should really be about.