MASON COUNTY — Schools in Mason County are closed Thursday (today) and Friday due to a work stoppage, but people across the entire county are coming together to make sure students do not go hungry.
Food donations are being accepted for the “Food for Students” program at five locations late this afternoon (Thursday), and the food will be distributed Friday, according to Claire Cottrill, who is organizing the drive, along with Chip Bennett, pastor of Bellemead United Methodist Church, and Beverly Glaze, nutrition director for Mason County Schools. Cottrill, a speech-language pathologist with the school system, said she was given the chance to organize the effort by the board of education.
Locations where residents can take food donations on Thursday include:
Bend Area: Bend Area Food Pantry in Mason from 4 to 8 p.m.;
Point Pleasant: Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 4 to 8 p.m.;
Leon: Leon Baptist Church from 4 to 6 p.m.;
Henderson/Gallipolis Ferry: Faith Gospel Church from 4 to 6 p.m.; and,
Ashton/Hannan: Crosslight of Hope from 4 to 8 p.m.
The food packages can be picked up by families at the same locations on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Cottrill said. An additional pick-up site will be the Mason County Library in Point Pleasant, however, donations will not be taken there.
Items sought for donation are single servings of macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, ready-to-eat spaghetti and pasta items, applesauce, pudding, gelatin, single serving cereal bowls, cereal bars, granola bars, and individual packages of toaster pastries.
“We are doing this because our students’ well-being is of utmost importance to us,” said Cottrill. “This is a collaborative of many people.”
She said local churches all over the county are helping to donate the food. Other organizations are helping, such as 4-H clubs, The Kitchen Table, and the students of Gear Up at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
“It has been amazing to see the responses of people willing to help with such a short notice,” said Cottrill. “Although I would never wish a situation that calls for a work stoppage on anyone, these are the moments where the lights of our community shine brightest.”
Cottrill said several schools also sent backpacks or bags of food home with students on Wednesday. She said teachers and churches were very generous in providing the extra food for students to take home.
In addition, Faith Baptist Church was providing a hot lunch at their Mason location today from noon to 1 p.m. Hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, chips and drinks were being provided for children of any age.
Cottrill said they are taking the food program one day at a time, but if the work stoppage continues, every effort will be made to continue providing food for children county-wide.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.