MASON COUNTY — Churches, school employees, residents and even students throughout Mason County joined in a concerted effort Friday to provide food to students, who otherwise might have gone hungry, during the statewide teacher and service personnel work stoppage.
About 300 children were given a four-day supply of food at five distribution points in the “Food for Students” program, according to Claire Cottrill, one of the organizers.
Food was collected Thursday evening at the Bend Area Food Pantry in Mason, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Point Pleasant, Leon Baptist Church in Leon, Faith Gospel Church in Gallipolis Ferry, and Crosslight of Hope in Ashton. These locations, as well as the Mason County Library in Point Pleasant, were also the distribution points for the food on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition to the pickup points, food in some areas was delivered to children. Point Pleasant High School Gear Up Mentor Groups helped prepare and deliver meals to students in the Point Pleasant area, with various 4-H members and volunteers helping in other areas.
Vicky Nazarewycz, who oversees operations at the Bend Area Food Pantry, said that site had an “amazing outpouring of support.”
“People came with bags, boxes, even truckloads of food,” she said.
Nazarewycz added several of the donors were children themselves, who wanted to help their fellow students. Over 100 bags of food were made up there, filled with macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, Ramen noodles, cereal bars, applesauce, toaster pastries, fresh fruit, and more.
Teresa Wilson of Crosslight of Hope reported similar results.
“We were really fortunate,” she said. “We were blessed with a lot of community involvement on short notice.”
Crosslight of Hope serves as a monthly food bank, and Wilson said they were not able to hold their regular distribution recently due to area flooding. Crosslight combined the regular giveaway with the 50 bags they made up for students, which aided in its success, Wilson said.
She stated many children in the Ashton/Hannan area that she serves depend on the schools for their nutrition. Wilson said she is working to extend feeding the students during the summer months, but added, “that’s a big dream.”
Teachers and service personnel began the work stoppage Thursday, closing Mason County Schools on both Thursday and Friday. As of late Friday afternoon, AFT and WVEA leaders Christine Campbell and Dale Lee announced the stoppage will continue Monday.
Jack Cullen, superintendent of Mason County Schools, said as of 4:30 p.m. Friday that he had not made the call as to whether schools will be closed, but said it will be decided during the weekend. Cullen indicated he was awaiting the outcome of a meeting between local union representatives on Saturday before making the final call.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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