Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

February 25, 2014

Food pantry: Good Samaritan mission must continue

— — In times of tragedy, a caring community will often rally together for a greater cause. Such is what we are now seeing in the Richlands, Va., area.

The Good Samaritan Food Pantry — a critical lifeline for families across Tazewell County since 1997 — was destroyed by fire last week. This loss has impacted — at least temporarily — hundreds of less fortunate families across the region who depend upon the food pantry for help. On an average day, the food pantry would serve between 160 to 250 people. And on some days as many as 300 would be served by the charity.

That’s why the loss is particularly troubling. For more than 17 years, the food pantry had been there for others in need. The facility itself is supported by 31 churches across the region — an impressive number that shows the willingness of the individual congregations to help their neighbors in need.

The cause of the fire appears to be a three-phase electrical box, according to food pantry manager R.E. “Moon” Mullins.

More than two truckloads of food was saved with help from volunteers across the region, including students from Richlands High School, as well as members of the Blue Tornado high school football team. And those who weren’t helping to move food and supplies from the burned-out food pantry were busy helping to restock the facility at its new temporary site.

That’s correct. Less than 24 hours after the regional food pantry was destroyed by fire, dozens across the region pitched in to help with restocking the pantry — thus assuring a continuation of help to those who are in need.

“It’s amazing to me how the people around here are,” Mullins said last week. “They came out and offered to help and came out to make donations. It’s amazing. We are getting calls from so many people. The Lord prevailed one time and he’ll prevail again.”

The food pantry headquarters have been temporarily relocated to the Barnett Building. That’s the same site where the food pantry’s fuel assistance and furniture program operates. The address for the temporary facility is 106 Veterans Drive, Richlands, Va., 24641.

The food pantry itself traditionally distributes food each Friday and Tuesday. Moon is hoping to continue with this schedule at the temporary site. Volunteers at the food pantry also hope to ultimately rebuild.

In the meantime, it will take continued support from churches, business leaders and concerned citizens across the region to help get the food pantry back on solid footing — thus ensuring a continuation of the weekly food distribution days.

It is our hope that the food pantry can rebuild, and can continue to help those who are less fortunate across the greater Tazewell County region. The mission of the Good Samaritan Food Pantry must continue.

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