AMSTERDAM - The Wolf Run, East Springfield, Bergholz and Amsterdam Food Pantry is there for those who need it and, according to Pauline Wagner, director since 2007, that's the most important thing.
"We get everyone here: persons who are on retirement funds, persons from all different backgrounds and some even have full-time, 40 hour per week jobs, but they just can't afford to feed their families and we're happy that we can be here to help. We never turn anyone away," said Wagner.
On average, the WEBA pantry serves 150 to 160 families per month, and Wagner says that every month that number tends to grow.
HELPING OTHERS — Pauline Wagner, director of the WEBA Food Pantry in Amsterdam since 2007, and her volunteers help to serve more than 150 families per month with the support of the United Way of Jefferson County. The pantry holds a monthly food pass-out and provides home delivery to those without transportation. Emergency service also is available 24 hours a day.
-- Jeremy Kins
"When I started as director in 2007, we served 12 families. The number of people we get to help here is great, but the increase is also a sad thing and a sign of the times we're in. We see an increase of five to seven families every month. We're thankful we're in a position to remedy some of their needs, but it's a number we hope goes down over time," said Wagner.
A monthly food pass-out is held at the pantry and in addition there also are a number of home deliveries to those without transportation. In addition, 24-hour emergency service is available.
"All of our food comes from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. They're a tremendous help. We also help around 15 families that we deliver to. Some are elderly, some have no transportation and otherwise. We have a a bunch of great volunteers that are always here and willing to work long hours to help our community," said Wagner.
However, the majority of the service they provide wouldn't be possible without the help and support of the United Way of Jefferson County, according to Wagner.
"The United Way is our backbone. Without them and the funding they provide us none of this would happen. It's fantastic the way they support us, and their money helps us so much. What we receive from them is our only guaranteed donation," Wagner said.
The United Way donates $750 per month to the pantry which is used to buy canned goods, cereal, milk, meat and paper products, along with whatever other supplies they might need, said Wagner.
"When we started neither myself nor our volunteers knew how to properly provide a food help service. The United Way walked us through it. We try to help them out with their campaign, and anything they need or ask for we do our best to comply. They're incredibly understanding," Wagner said.
The aid the WEBA Food Pantry receives is part of the United Way's 2012 "Live United" campaign, which has a goal of $430,000. The money is used to support 19 local agencies.
Nancy Jo Grim, executive director of the United Way of Jefferson County, understands how important the donations can be to an organization like the WEBA Food Pantry.
"Local people in need find help at our food pantries. No one understands what it is to go without food or to go hungry unless they have gone through it themselves," said Grim.
The pantry has been helping local families since its beginning in 1969 in association with the St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Amsterdam, and all donations are accepted and volunteers are welcomed, said Wagner.
"Our volunteers are magnificent. We have 15 at the moment and the pantry wouldn't be where it is today without their tireless work and support," Wagner said.
"Many local people are struggling, but when they come to WEBA they find volunteers and open hearts that are interested in reaching out to local people in need," said Grim.
Donations to the local United Way can be made to: 501 Washington St., P.O. Box 1463, Steubenville, OH 43952. The United Way can be contacted at (740) 284-9000.
(Kins can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)