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Charities Hoping to Fill Pantries, Gather Gifts and Funds

November 21, 2022

News Release | AP

Regional News

The Mustard Seed in Clarksburg, WV

CLARKSBURG, WV - With November’s arrival, charities everywhere will begin an end-of-the-year push to fill up food pantries for Thanksgiving, collect Christmas gifts and gather monetary donations in time for the holiday season.

In Clarksburg, West Virginia, the Mustard Seed provides food, clothing and housewares to the community free of charge.

Right now, The Mustard Seed’s primary need is winter clothing.

“Starting this month, this is a time of year where people want winter coats, scarves and gloves. People want more underwear, gloves and socks. We’re always short on that for men’s and women’s underwear and socks. We’re looking for blankets as well,” said Connie Wolfinger, recording secretary of The Mustard Seed.

“Our main thing right now is to get them warm — warm clothes, blankets, hats and scarves and, of course, winter boots for men and women. … We get a lot of the homeless that are looking for warm clothing,” Wolfinger said.

The Mustard Seed still takes food donations as well, as it feeds their monthly clients. Nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking is in high demand.

“We don’t do food baskets like some churches do. We provide them food on a monthly basis to supplement their SNAP cards, but we’ve had over 2,500 food orders. We’ve fed over 5,300 adults and over 2,400 children,” Wolfinger said.

The Mustard Seed is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations can be brought other days by appointment.

Also in Clarksburg, the Progressive Women’s Association runs a food distribution center and offers programs such as cooking classes.

“The food pantry is one of our biggest things here. Sometimes being able to acquire food is a little bit difficult, but we’re still able to feed at least 75-100 people per month, which isn’t very many, but it does help,” said Elinda Carson, director of the Progressive Women’s Association.

Holiday activities for the Progressive Women’s Association include dinner baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas and potentially a free dinner.

“I am trying to get us some turkey so we can do holiday baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If not, we’ll do chicken and turkey because I hear there’s a shortage of turkeys, so we’re just trying to make sure everybody has something to eat,” Carson said.

“I’ve talked to a couple other organizations about doing a free meal here during the holiday season, so hopefully we can get that together within the next month or so,” Carson said.

Food donations are welcome ahead of Thanksgiving, including turkeys, hams and all the trimmings.

Carson noted that programs have seen a drop in participation as well as volunteerism after the COVID pandemic set in a couple years ago, so volunteers are in high demand.

“We try to run cooking classes and other things, but folks are still kind of nervous about it. … When you’re trying to pull together a class, they’re not wanting to come out because of COVID,” Carson said.

“I used to have quite a large volunteer pool here, but again, COVID kind of stopped that,” Carson said.

The Progressive Women’s Association also has a Pet Pantry, which provides dog and cat food to pet owners in the community.

Rising food prices have been hard on food pantries and other meal distribution programs, including the Boxing It Up to Give Thanks program.

“I think that’s the case with pantries across the United States, especially those in West Virginia, with inflated prices and the challenge of actually getting enough supplies into the pantry to be able to distribute,” said Hannah Povroznik, founder and chairperson of Boxing It Up.

“We typically do about 1,000 boxes. This year, we had to decrease to about 850 just because we couldn’t get the turkeys in. There weren’t enough to actually get out and the cost has nearly doubled,” Povroznik said.

Boxing It Up packages and distributes meals throughout Harrison, Marion, Doddridge, Taylor and Upshur counties through its base of distribution at the Bridgeport Price Cutter.

The organization also involves community outreach, such as youth mentorship.

“In addition to distribution, we try to incorporate mentorship of our youth. That’s always been a platform and a goal for us. We were founded on the words ‘reach, grow, make a difference,’ and I believe that comes back to the use of enacting change,” Povroznik said.

“For our major distribution day, we’ll have about 20-30 volunteers in the warehouse, distributing packaging boxes and taking them across the five counties we serve,” Povroznik said.

Because of the rising costs of food, Boxing It Up’s main concern is securing enough financial backing this year and getting supporters to spread the word.

“We do donation on GoFundMe as well as personal checks and every check we receive goes directly to purchasing food boxes. We limit overhead to $0. … Right now we’re about $4,000 away from our $33,000 goal,” Povroznik said.

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