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Salvation Army Provides Food During Power Outage

photo by: Joselyn King

Wheeling Salvation Army volunteers James Thompson, Michael Thompson and Shelley Miller serve up hot dogs and hamburgers to law enforcement, fire fighters, line workers and community members impacted by power outages throughout the Ohio Valley on Tuesday. The Salvation Army truck was set up in front of the City-County Building in Wheeling.

WHEELING — When the power went out in the Ohio Valley early Tuesday morning, the Wheeling Salvation Army summoned its own energy to go help those responding to the emergency.

By 10:30 a.m., the Salvation Army Disaster Truck was set up in front of the City-County Building in downtown Wheeling. Volunteers already were manning the grill there and serving up hamburgers and hot dogs.

There were also bags of chips and cookies, as well as canned beverages.

Law enforcement, firefighters, health care personnel, lineworkers and anyone in the community affected by the outage was invited to come have an early lunch.

Capt. Mark Van Meter said it was expected the outage was going to on for some time, and volunteers already were making plans to provide dinners and meals in the coming days if needed.

The disaster truck is kept maintained and stocked with enough nonperishable food to feed 300 people, he continued. Fresh food, meanwhile, can be prepared on the grill or the Salvation Army kitchen.

“This is why we do the fundraising at Christmas time,” Van Meter said. “It’s what allows us to function, and provide for the community when needed.”

Typically, the truck is put to use “about a couple of times a year” when there is a major fire or emergency, Van Meter said.

“We’re hoping to get a new truck that better serves our purposes,” Van Meter continued.

That truck would likely be equipped with a mobile kitchen, and more space for storing supplies.

Present at the food truck was a local volunteer who has much experience responding to disasters and emergencies with the Salvation Army.

Former Wheeling Fire Chief Ed Long was one of the first Salvation Army volunteers to respond at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.

What the Salvation Army provides is “very important,” Long said.

“Many people need help who won’t come forward,” he said. “But if they see the truck, they may come to get some help.”

Often the help needed isn’t just physical or psychological, but spiritual, Long continued.

“It is what we’re here for,” he said.

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