Volunteers grace pantry
Blanche Ellen Jackson, a few weeks shy of her 90th birthday, enjoys her volunteer work at the Jefferson County Food Pantry. Jackson helps sort groceries and cheerfully chats with the recipients.
“I’ve lived a very good life. I have had nine children and one wonderful husband,” Jackson said.
Traveling and visiting far away family members are her only reasons for missing work at the pantry.
“This is a good community. You have to give back to your community,” Jackson said.
Food pantry coordinator Jan Dougherty echoes Jackson’s sentiments.
“It’s nice to live in such a giving community,” Dougherty said.
Following all the successful Christmas can drives, the shelves are well stocked. Schools, local businesses and boy scouts all had drives and brought in large numbers of canned goods. The Charles Town race track staff donated almost 20,000 pounds of food.
Meat is donated from Food Lion and Wal-Mart gives them damaged goods, like broken shampoo bottles or toilet paper with ripped packaging. The food pantry portions out donations to clients. Everything helps.
They also get 3,000 to 7,000 pounds of food per month from USDA.
They portion out the food to try and match three meals per day for three days per week per person in the family. Sometimes they have single people and other times they have large families who can only come once a month.
They assist approximately 200 families a month.
One family had a little girl turning 7 years old. They added a birthday cake and a bag of treats put together by the girl scouts. The local girl scouts assemble gift bags for different ages and donate them to the food pantry.
“Cash donations are always welcome because they are so versatile,” said Emma Layman, Jefferson County Community Ministries volunteer.
They consistently need non-perishable food – breakfast items, fruit juices, peanut butter, canned meat, soup, pasta, cereals.
They also give out personal hygiene items like deodorant, soap, feminine products, shampoo plus laundry soap.
“We also help the four-legged friends. Cat and dog food are welcome at the pantry,” Layman said.
“More people should know about this service. Some people are in real hard times right now,” Jackson said.
St. Agnes Catholic Church in Shepherdstown is one of the many churches that collect food and gift cards for the food pantry.
“JCCM is the hub for moving goods here in this county. I know when I refer someone to them, that person will get looked after,” said Kate DiServio, St. Agnes Parish secretary.
Having all the services in one central location means more resources go into the program and not into administration plus it makes it easier for the recipients. They only have to get screened and to qualify once.
“It is great to work with JCCM. When all the organizations work together, it discourages scammers. There is a central data base,” DiServio said.
Donations can be given at most area churches or to the center itself. Jefferson County Community Ministries is located at 238 W. Washington St., Charles Town. For more information visit the website at www.jccm.us.