POINT PLEASANT —For the volunteers behind the Mason County food bank, it’s a year-to-year struggle to provide some relief to families and individuals—many of them working—who have difficulty finding the money to buy food.
In early December, Tammy Sayre, one of the volunteer organizers of the food bank, wasn’t sure that the show could on. Funding had been exhausted by the food bank’s pre-Thanksgiving event, and Sayre and the others awaited news on a grant application.
Organizers had applied for a grant for $2,500 from the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation; funds from the foundation came through in December just before Christmas — in time for another emergency food distribution at the youth center in Harmon Park, Point Pleasant.
“No other funding was available as close as the week before time,” Sayre said, “It was looking like the food bank wouldn’t be open.”
The majority of funding comes from United Way, Sayre said, but that funding has been cut over the past few years.
“(In 2012) we had $18,496 in food receipts, and we got $11,888 from United Way. The rest was made up of donations,” Sayre said. “Our main objective here is to help the working class.”
Sayre added that she and a group from her church decided to take on the project a few years ago after realizing that there was some funding available but no one to run the food bank.
Stephen C. Littlepage, director of the board for the Claflin Foundation, said that the foundation responded to what it perceived as an urgent need in December.
“The grant award with the application process happened to be very timely for fulfilling that immediate need of the food pantry,” Littlepage commented. “It was our understanding that the food bank was the lowest that it had been in a while. This particular grant was to purchase food.”
However, Littlepage added, the foundation would like to give the food bank some more long-term help. The board plans to meet soon with those who run the food bank and discuss ways in which the foundation may give a more sustaining support to the food bank. Some of the ideas include large storage units and freezers.
Sayre said that the grant money, along with donations from various members of the community, has been a huge help.
“It’s a blessing,” Sayre said.
The food bank is open on the fourth Monday of every month at the youth center, Sayre noted.
“People need to bring proof of income and residency, and proof of need, such as unemployment,and public assistance,” Sayre said.
She added that after February the date may change — the new date will be posted on the door at the youth center, and in the local briefs of the Point Pleasant Register.
“Again I urge the community to donate to local area food banks,” Sayre concluded. “As you can see it makes a difference.”
Sayre said that anyone wishing to donate to the food bank may call her at (304) 532-7488.
The Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation is based in Mason County and funds programs which benefit local residents in a variety of ways. After only five years, the Claflin Foundation disbursed its largest amount in 2013, with grant awards totaling $105,603.71.
For more information about the Claflin Foundation, contact Stephen C. Littlepage at (304) 675-1360.