PRINCETON — Christmas is known as a time of giving, and local food pantries are in need of the giving spirit. Officials with the local pantries said they desperately need food to help those in need this holiday season.

Capt. Burl LaBatte, of the Salvation Army, said his organization need canned goods.

“Those are the fastest to go. We need canned soups, vegetables, and fruits. We service a five-county area: Mercer, Monroe, McDowell, Summers, and Tazewell County,” LaBatte said.

Those wishing to help the Salvation Army may drop off food at their centers in Princeton or in Bluefield.

“Anything that anyone can do this time of year, we’re more than appreciative,” he said.

J.B. Hurt, director of benevolence and youth pastor at the Princeton Church of God, said the church’s food pantry is also low.

“We have Operation Compassion of Mercer County, and it’s affiliated with the church. With a food pantry, you’re in constant need of supply. We have some food, but we could use more,” Hurt said.

Any type of canned food or nonperishable item may be donated, he said.

Donations to the Princeton Church of God food pantry can be made at the church’s office during normal business hours of Monday—Friday, 8 a.m.—5 p.m., or before church services.

Jimm Norman, executive director of Tender Mercies Ministries, said the organization’s closets were full, but they were running low on USDA and food bank items.

“We haven’t received any food from the USDA in a while. We’ll always accept donations of food or money,” Norman said.

Those wishing to donate may drop off food at Tender Mercies Ministries, located at 4001 West Main St., on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m.—12 p.m. or 1:15 p.m.—3 p.m. Tender Mercies will be closed on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, Norman said.

“The shelves will be empty by December, so we will gladly accept donations.” Norman said they receive nutritious foods such as peanut butter and some canned goods from the USDA.

John Griffin, a volunteer with the Bluefield Union Mission, said they are in need of several items. “We can use boxed macaroni and cheese. We’re short on canned meat products and canned fruit. We can always use bagged cereal,” he said.

Other food items the Union Mission can use include peanut butter and any kind of canned vegetable.

“The community has been very supportive,” Griffin said.

Those wishing to donate to the Union Mission can drop off either food or monetary donations at their office on Bluefield Avenue.

— Contact Mark Blevins at mblevins@ptonline.net.