Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 22, 2014

Operators of Good Samaritan Food Pantry optimistic about rebuilding

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

RICHLANDS, Va. — Click here for video

R.E. “Moon” Mullins, the manager of the Good Samaritan Food Pantry, took a brief break Friday afternoon after saving as much as could be saved from the burned-out food pantry.

“We got it all closed up now, and the insurance company is coming on Monday,” Mullins said. “We moved two truck loads of frozen food off, and distributed it. We had the Richlands High School football team here with us, so we got a lot accomplished.”

Mullins said that the origin of the fire appeared to be a three-phase electrical box. “I did that kind of work when I was in the mines,” Mullins said. “The three-phase power, somehow, got grounded. It was an electrical fire.”

Mullins has worked at the food pantry since it was founded 17 years ago. “Before then, every church here had their own food pantry. We started out with just seven churches, now we have 31 churches supporting us. Dick Lee and R.A. Cook and I all work on this together. The age is really something. Dick is 82, R.A. is 80 and I’m 81. We’re ready to build it back up.”

Mullins said that he was overwhelmed by the demonstration of support from the community. “A lot of people came out (Thursday) night, but there were more people here throughout the day. It’s amazing to me how the people around here are. They come out and offer to help and come out to make donations. It’s amazing.”

“We’re getting calls from so many people,” Blanch Mullins said. “The Lord prevailed one time and He’ll prevail again.”

Someone spotted flames coming through the roof of the food pantry at about 8 p.m. Thursday night, according to Blanch Mullins. “Last night was like a big family here with everyone helping each other.”

Greg Reynolds, a firefighter with the Richlands Volunteer Fire Department, said that firefighters from Richlands, Va., Cedar Bluff, Va., the town of Tazewell, Va., and the Rosedale-Belfast fire departments all responded. Firefighters finished their work at about 4:30 a.m. “but we kept a truck there until 8 a.m.,” Reynolds said.

He said the fire was hot, “but there were no injuries,” he said. “We had over 30 firefighters there at the same time and no one got hurt.”

Moon Mullins said the food pantry headquarters will temporarily move into the Barnett Building. “That’s our building too,” he said. “We use it for our fuel assistance program and for furniture.” He said the pantry’s new address is 106 Veterans Drive, Richlands, VA 24641.

Elder Gage Smith, a missionary from Elko, Nev., has been volunteering at the food pantry for three months. “I love it here,” Smith said. “It’s so great here. The people are great and I like everything about Richlands.” Smith said that the food pantry traditionally distributes food each Friday and Tuesday.

“We would have an average of 160 to 250 people in here each day,” Smith said. “When the government food came in, we would get 300 people here.”

Moon Mullins expressed his thanks to the community. “Everybody in the town has helped,” Mullins said. “This is a caring community.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com