One of the things I strive to be in life, is useful, like a ham. Let me explain.
Maybe you have, or had, one of those “common sense” people in your life. You know the ones. They are the people who demonstrate how to properly sew on a button or how to soak chicken in milk before you roll it in flour to fry. My grandmother was that person for me. We’ll just refer to her as Nannie from now on.
Nannie understood being useful. Growing up “in back of West Columbia” as she used to describe it, she didn’t have much. She did, however, develop a keen sense of what was useful. I mean, this was a woman who graduated from Wahama High School in a dress made from feedsack material.
Nannie used to say, though it was thoughtful when people sent flowers after someone passed away, it wasn’t very useful, not like a ham. Don’t get Nannie wrong, she loved and appreciated flowers and those who sent them over the years, but a ham went further. Ham could be shared by more people than herself, in good and bad times.
This week, I received the monthly newsletter from the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church, where I attended as a child and Nannie attended for 50 years. The church has a food pantry in the basement that is totally operated on donations and volunteers. It receives no government grants, just the support of the community. Without the rigmarole of government subsidies to deal with, the pantry operates on the honor system. Those who need help need only bring in proof of residency and the rest of the story is known only to a “Higher Power.”
In the newsletter, it was reported in October alone, the pantry served 74 families which included 233 people, and there were eight new families who appeared for help. The demand has become so intense, the pantry has been forced to limit families to receiving assistance to every other month due to available food and volunteers to serve everyone in need.
I imagine these numbers reflect similar realities across Mason, Gallia and Meigs counties. I’ve often said, though there are differences between our three counties, sometimes it is the same place with different zip codes. Hunger appears to have no understanding of county or state lines.
I’m a member of The Kitchen Table, the outreach arm of the Pleasant Valley Hospital Auxiliary. This summer, we came up with the idea of the “Kid’s Kafe” where we provided free lunches to children across Mason County. Though we had some “feeding stations” at set locations, we also went to the children who had no way of getting to us.
On one occasion, myself and fellow Kitchen Table member LaDonna Carr of French City Foods in Gallipolis, loaded up her car with 15 pizzas and set out in search of those who might want a slice. To be honest, I thought we’d never get rid of that much pizza – cut to two hours later, and trips to residential areas in Point Pleasant and Henderson, and every slice was gone. In this instance, our ham was pizza. It became clear to me on this hot, summer afternoon, that sometimes the people who need it most, have no way of getting to the help that’s out there; sometimes you have to go to them. The Point Pleasant Fire Department has been doing this for years with its food basket giveaway, delivering to those who need it on Christmas Eve no less.
So, this season, be useful like a ham and get creative about how you deliver it. Make ham, pizza, or any non-perishable food item, your version of sending flowers to someone who could use it. Though ham doesn’t smell like roses, it still smells good.
Beth Sergent is the editor of Ohio Valley Publishing which includes the Sunday Times-Sentinel, Point Pleasant Register, Gallipolis Daily Tribune and The Daily Sentinel. She can be reached at 304-675-1333, ext. 1992 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.