In 1996, the late Anna Lou Lenz and other congregants of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church sought to increase their role and mission in Downtown Wheeling. Seeing a growing need, they envisioned a food pantry where families could come and receive a monthly allotment of groceries.
At first, we served only a few dozen families per month, but both need and interest have risen such that, since 2008, the St. James Food Pantry has distributed more than 8,000 bags of groceries and frozen meats to families in Ohio, Marshall and Belmont counties.
Maintaining sufficient funds to provide these items to more that 1,500 families per year has never been an easy task; however, thanks to the good people of the Upper Ohio Valley, that task has become much easier. In September, we applied for a grant from the Thrivent Foundation and were subsequently invited to participate in a matching campaign. Thrivent Financial would match 50 percent of all funds raised between December 1 and March 31 for a maximum match of $5,000. This would be our first truly public outreach campaign, and coming up with ways to raise $10,000 seemed both daunting and difficult. Nonetheless, we placed a lot of faith in the generosity of our valley neighbors. Today, we are pleased to announce that we were able to raise just over that $10,000 goal. At the donors' request, we are not publishing their names or amounts, but it would be remiss of us not to offer them our sincere gratitude. The funds were raised as follows:
$2,500 from the ELCA Domestic Hunger Relief Program.
$2,000 from a local philantropic organization.
$3,800 from five civic, labor, social and religious organizations (Lutheran and non-Lutheran), four local businesses and numerous individual donors.
$700 from online donors across 11 states.
$950 from St. James congregants in our Jacob's Ladder campaign.
$325 from our NCAA March Madness contest.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank several special friends who helped make this success possible.
Kenny Wurtzbacher of Ogden Advertising.
Steve Novotney and the staff, management and owners of AM-1600 WKKX.
Mrs. Jill Fatigati-Robbins and her students at Wheeling Park High School.
The $15,000 in donations will go a long way to help us at the St. James Food Pantry expand our ability to provide to more and more needy families in the area. We will not in any way diminish our energies to meet the demand, so we invite people of the Upper Ohio Valley to our annual indoor rummage and bake sale on Saturday, May 10, as well as to our Penny Auction fundraiser on Sept. 6.
Our food pantry distribution is typically on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. If would like more information on the St. James Food Pantry, please visit our website-www.stjameswheeling.com/foodpantry- or "like" us on Facebook.
Again, we express our gratitude to everyone who contributed to, prayed for, and promoted our fundraising efforts.
Maureen Morris-Wagner, pantry director
Rev. Deborah L. Gable, pastor
Mark Houser, council president
Michael P. Hamilton, campaign