HARTFORD — A small church in the Town of Hartford is taking huge leaps of faith to help their fellow man, establishing both a food pantry and clothing bank in the past two months.
God’s House of Hope Church began services in March with about 10 members, said Pastor Charlie Cundiff. Located in the building that once housed Hartford Elementary and more recently Cornerstone Academy, Cundiff said the church has now reached an attendance of up to 40. Just this past week, the church signed papers to purchase the building.
Two of the church members, Angie Fletcher, who is also Cundiff’s daughter, and Ami Williams, said they felt led to begin a food pantry. After several food drives at local grocery stores, along with donations, the first food giveaway was held in early July.
With only word of mouth and a Facebook page, the pantry supplied food to four families. Throughout the remainder of the month, six families were helped through “emergency” food distributions.
With the next distribution scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the women said there is no income guideline or any other restriction to take advantage of the program. The only information asked is the number of people in the family. Both West Virginia and Ohio residents are welcome.
Fletcher said the pantry tries to cater to children and the food they like. When asked what foodstuffs the pantry needs, she requests pasta and sauce, instant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cereal and toaster pastries, along with the traditional vegetables.
While the food pantry was the sole intention of Fletcher and Williams, others had different plans for the women. Offers of clothing left over from yard sales started coming in, and a second outreach was born.
“It has taken off like a tornado,” said Fletcher. “It certainly wasn’t planned.”
The first clothing distribution was also held in July and the women gave everything away. The next clothing giveaway is also planned on Aug. 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Fletcher said they will be kept separate.
The clothing bank also has no restrictions or requirements. At present time, there are a lot of jeans and children’s clothes, as well as women’s clothing in sizes 0 to 28. Men’s clothing, and accessories like belts, purses, and shoes, round out the offerings.
Because both will go on at the same time, Fletcher said she is taking names for the food distribution. Boxes will be made up in advance and be ready for pick-up in another room.
“We want to respect people’s privacy,” she added.
Looking to the future, the women next plan to reopen the building’s kitchen area so they can prepare meals and serve fully-cooked dinners to those in need. One freezer has been donated to their efforts and another has been promised.
Also on the “needs” list are a refrigerator and volunteers to help with the distributions. Fletcher said community service hours will be given to any high school student wanting to help. Groups and organizations are being sought to hold food drives to help fill the pantry shelves.
“We’re running on our own right now,” Fletcher said. “We have no backers other than individuals who have been donating.”
She added there is a permanent box for food donations at the Dollar General Store in Mason. A food drive will also be held at the Walmart in Gallipolis on Sept. 12. Food drives have already been held at the Mason Walmart, Point Pleasant Foodland, and other stores.
Anyone wishing to make a donation, or request a food box, can call Fletcher at 304-593-9620. The pastor can be reached at 740-508-6420.