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FISH to observe 50 years of service to Hancock County

CHESTER — The Chester-Newell Friends In Sending Help organization will mark its 50th anniversary of service to the community next year.

According to Ed LaNeve, president of the non-profit’s board of directors, F.I.S.H. has been providing emergency help for those in northern Hancock County since 1972. Inspired by the principles outlined by Jesus Christ and his apostles, F.I.S.H. represents many of the Christian churches within the Chester, Newell and New Manchester areas.

LaNeve explained the organization looks to the community, whether it be schools or local businesses, for food or monetary donations to F.I.S.H.

“Several churches and individuals (also) have been with us from our beginning, (and) new sources of donations join us each year. We appreciate all donations (large and small), and we distribute what we receive to those in need,” he added.

For example, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort has provided food donations and turkey donations at Thanksgiving for many years.

Over its history, the mission focus of the Chester-Newell F.I.S.H. has changed as its client base and financial constraints also have evolved.

“The one constant through all the years has been the providing of food to the needy of the area. Other fields, such as transportation to medical appointments and financial assistance for utility bills, have come and gone,” LaNeve explained.

The pantry once operated during weekdays with food deliveries to homes, but the increased numbers needing assistance made this arrangement impossible to maintain. So today’s F.I.S.H. opens its pantry at 10 a.m. Saturdays to distribute pre-registered food parcels to ensure there is enough for distribution.

LaNeve said the organization also can provide food gift certificates for an area food store for perishable items when finances permit.

“We average (more than) 100 calls per month, so even a $10 gift certificate would involve an expenditure of $1,000 a month. Recent donations, such as the Rabenstein endowments through Westminister Presbyterian Church have enabled F.I.S.H. to give out higher value gift cards to clients,” he added.

The number of clients increases to 150 per month around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with family size averaging 3.5 individuals. This represents 4,800 individuals receiving F.I.S.H. assistance annually in the Chester-Newell-New Manchester areas.

To volunteer or donate to Chester-Newell F.I.S.H.’s efforts, contact the organization’s secretary, Cathy Glass, by mail at 1472 Locust Hill Road; Chester, 26034 or reach them by phone at (330) 385-0445.

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