Send Help taking donations

Area residents can give the gift of food this holiday season by contributing to local pantries through the annual Send Help campaign.

Sponsored by The Marietta Times and WMOA Radio, the campaign encourages folks to send donations directly to the pantries in a season where they see increased need.

“People … start getting heating bills,” said Bill Farnsworth, director of the Marietta Community Food Pantry. “I think they spend more money (on) medical bills. … And then some people are seasonal workers.”

Thirteen pantries in Washington and Wood counties are participating this year, including the newest, the 3-C Food Pantry located at the Cutler Community Center. The pantry was started a year ago and has served between 40 and 80 families a month, said director Bruce Kelbaugh.

“But we’re hearing it’s going to pick up because of the … reduction in food stamps and access to gardens,” he said.

Like other area pantries, 3-C relies on donations from the community. Thirty to 40 individuals, churches, community groups and businesses have made annual pledges to the pantry and additional assistance would be appreciated, Kelbaugh said.

“It’d be a God-send. It would be tremendous,” he said.

The campaign is one of the largest contributions of the year for the Community Food Pantry, Farnsworth said.

“Our funds are getting low, and we need all the help we can get,” Farnsworth said, noting other local pantries also need assistance. “Last year we served over 8,000 people, and this year we’re going to be close. … We send out every donation we get … it goes back out toward food.”

While food donations are appreciated, representatives of local pantries say money is preferred because most of them can purchase food at significantly discounted rates through the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank.

“Money goes a lot further than someone going out and buying something to donate,” said the Rev. Dennis Williams, with the New Matamoras Food Pantry.

Jasmine Rogers contributed.