"This past week the Making Miracles (Gift Shop) hosted a food drive with the Episcopal Church," said Rev. Bill Dawson, pastor of the Sistersville United Methodist Church and chairman of the Sistersville Ministerial Association (SMA).
On Saturday, the Sistersville IGA grocery store also participated in a food drive for this purpose, bringing in enough food to help restock the shelves at the First Baptist Church, where SMA has had its pantry for the last two years. Prior to that, the pantry was operated out of the Holy Rosary Church since its beginning nine years ago.
"It was a huge success," said SMA volunteer Jennie Hicks of the food drive. Hicks is a member of the First Baptist Church and currently oversees the pantry.
Following a recent food drive by groups involved with the Sistersville Ministerial Association, the food pantry located in the First Baptist Church is now well stocked and ready to feed those who are in need.
Because the community has a long history of cooperation among its many churches, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact date when SMA was formed, but the current food pantry began 11 years ago. According to SMA volunteer Delores Placer, the idea for a church food pantry was brought up at a meeting in 2002 and gained the support of many members, including then-Treasurer Gary Boyd, former pastor of the Friendly United Methodist Church. Boyd was involved until his passing in 2010.
"In a way this is a legacy for Gary," said Rev. Dawson of the late Boyd's involvement.
Placer added that Rose Young, president of the Ladies Altar Society, helped to establish the food pantry when it began in the Holy Rosary Church. She also stated that Carol Haught from the Christian Church contributed for many years.
Rev. Dawson discussed the donations given around Christmastime, allowing them to provide a Christmas Dinner Voucher Program at IGA. People in need of assistance may apply for these vouchers.
"It helps families get their Christmas dinner," he said.
While eager to help, he stated that the SMA follows a set of rules in order to assure that everyone has a chance to get the help they need. People can only receive food every 30 days, and they must first contact a pastor of the SMA, who will then contact volunteers. While questions can be answered at the First Baptist Church, 304-652-2443, food orders must be made by a pastor.
During Lent and Easter seasons, Treasurer Colleen Griffith writes columns updating the community on the number of families the SMA has assisted. Griffith is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Sistersville.
In addition to food items, SMA has been known to help with utilities, gas money, prescription help (non pain medications), and clothing. The First Baptist Church also runs a clothing closet, which has enough clothing to provide for each season.
"People bring clothes in and we sort through them," said Hicks. "Anyone can come look."
Those interested in donating food, clothing and funds can turn items in at the First Baptist Church on 506 Wells Street in Sistersville. Donations can also be dropped off at any of the other Sistersville Area Ministerial Association churches: First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Sistersville Church of the Nazarene, Hope Fellowship Church, First Christian Church, Friendly UMC, and the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Food and clothing donations can also be dropped off at Our Town Resources and Thrift Store at 623 Wells Street.
For more information, contact the First Baptist Church at 304-652-2443.