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Walmart donates to food bank

Oct. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HURRICANE -- At the Christian Community Cupboard, volunteers see a lot of different people coming into their tiny building located at 2843 Virginia Ave. in Hurricane. Although they mostly deal with adults, Treasurer Joyce Moore says it is the little ones who really touch her heart.

She recalled one family a few years ago that personified what the Community Cupboard is trying to do, which is serve people in need. As the doors opened for the morning, Moore looked down to see a small boy tugging at her pants leg to get her attention.

"He said simply, 'I'm hungry. Can I have some cereal?' It was heartbreaking," she said.

Overcome with emotion over the little boy's plight, Moore said she had to leave the room for a few moments. To the volunteers who have kept the food pantry running over the last three decades, it is a calling.

"It is a great ministry. I think the majority of our clients are grateful for the help we can give them, but we need the help of the community to continue," she said.

However, it takes a lot of donated money and food to aid those in Putnam County who are perhaps jobless, make a very low wage or are living only on Social Security. With a lot of people relying on the Community Cupboard to get them through the month, the Cupboard depends on the generosity of individuals, businesses, schools, churches, scouts, and other organizations to provide the donated food and toiletries that are given out during the year.

That is why on Friday, Oct. 5, everyone was smiling as the CCC was presented with a $2,500 check from the Walmart Foundation. Presenting the check was Hurricane Walmart store manager Lloyd Atkinson.

Atkinson said later that with Wal-Mart Inc.'s ongoing involvement in "Feeding America," which calls itself "the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity," he had been working on ways for the Hurricane store to do the same, but on a local level.

"We want to help those in need in the community," he said. While talking to different people, he heard from Hurricane City Manager Ben Newhouse.

Newhouse had been looking online at grants awarded by the Walmart Foundation. He believed this might be a way to help the Cupboard.

"When we saw the availability, we looked into it," Newhouse said.

After discussing the possibility of a grant with Atkinson, Newhouse had a grant writer help write the application, had it approved by Atkinson and then the Walmart Foundation. The Community Cupboard was very grateful to receive the grant money.

"It will buy more food," said volunteer Stan Summerfield.

Along with the grant to the Community Cupboard, Atkinson keeps a barrel outside the store for food donations to the CCC. Inside he keeps barrels near the checkout aisles with supplies of food next to them. "The cashiers ask as they ring up the bill, 'Would you like to donate a can of green beans (or some other kind of canned good) to the community cupboard?" If the answer is yes, the cashier will add the money to the customer's total and then place the item in the barrel."

Recently, the Hurricane Walmart donated to the Backpack Program at a local church where backpacks are filled with food for students to take home over the weekend who might not have any other source of food when not in school. They also donate to the Huntington Area Food Bank.

Christian Community Cupboard Treasurer Joyce Moore said the Cupboard is currently helping an average of 300 families a month, which could mean providing groceries for well over 1,000 people. Each family can come to the cupboard every 30 days for supplies.

"We were set up to be a three-day emergency supply. We do keep records of all of that," she said. Those who wish to get food from the cupboard must have a proof of residence and income form they must sign. It is a government form needed to receive the commodities from the Huntington Food Bank that helps supply food pantries in this area. Food from the Huntington Food Bank can be anything.

"It can be canned fruit, potatoes, grits, or corn meal," she said. "They just let us know how much our pantry will receive. We never know what we will get," she said.

While they depend on donated food, there are some things they have to buy such as meat. In addition, they try to keep toiletries and items that can't be purchased with food stamps such as toilet tissue, shampoo, bar soap, and toothpaste.

"We do try to keep them on hand," she said. However, on Friday, the shelf holding those items was nearly empty. Other items that CCC always need are canned meat, tuna, canned chicken, Treet, Spam, and macaroni and cheese.

According to the website of Hurricane First Baptist -- which is one of the 13 area churches supporting the Cupboard -- the mission of CCC is to provide temporary relief for needy families by providing food, cleaning supplies and toiletries for clients who register with the cupboard and are seeking assistance.

Each Tuesday and Friday between 10 a.m. and noon, the cupboard attempts to provide an emergency three-day supply of food to anyone who meets the Federal low income guidelines and lives south of the Kanawha River in Putnam County. All applicants must disclose the source of income and financial proof of residency. For anyone needing assistance, he or she may come in on Tuesday or Friday and fill out the application.

In an effort to increase donations to the CCC, The City of Hurricane has placed rain barrels in various areas around town such as Walmart, City National Bank and City Hall. They would love to place more.

"We need to find more places to put them," he said. "We'd like to get them in a half dozen more," he added. If any business would like to have a barrel, they can call Hurricane City Hall at 304-562-5896.

In addition to the efforts of Newhouse and Walmart, Putnam County Bank has barrels where food can be dropped off. Barrels are located at their Teays Valley Branch, the Main Street office, I-64 branch, and at the Loan Center. Jerry Brown of PCB said barrels are placed for canned goods and they also have glass containers for financial donations. Putnam County Bank matches all donations placed in their containers.

Newhouse said if everyone in Putnam County donated a can of peas or corn to the Christian Community Cupboard, the pantry would receive more than 50,000 cans of food. He said the Cupboard fills a great need in the community.

"If we didn't have the program, where would these folks go?" he said.

To make financial donations to the Cupboard, send checks to Christian Community Cupboard, Attn: Joyce Moore-Treasurer, Box 511, Hurricane, WV, 25526.

Donors will receive a receipt in the mail.