BUCKHANNON – The Upshur Parish House Executive Director Kristi Wilkerson is asking for residents to consider sharing resources with their neighbors this holiday season to help make the time brighter for those in need.
“We were extremely busy this Thanksgiving season – preparing and distributing Thanksgiving Food Baskets – and we normally plan for 650 to 700 Holiday Food Boxes,” she said. “We distributed 809 Thanksgiving Holiday Food Boxes this year.”
As a result, Wilkerson said the Parish House knows the demand will be up for the food boxes over the Christmas holiday.
“We get fewer donations around Christmas, and this year, there are some food supply issues we are dealing with as well,” Wilkerson said. “If we could encourage folks to help out with some items we need for the Christmas Food Boxes, that would help.”
Wilkerson said those items most needed to fill the boxes include canned yams, pork and beans, corn, cake frosting and cake mixes. She said they have found it necessary to order some extra hams this year, so if folks did not want to donate items, they would welcome monetary donations as well to help offset the cost of food.
“The other part is that we are low on some of the staples in our Upshur Parish House Food Pantry,” she shared. “We need items such as spaghetti, peanut butter and some of those items. We have not been able to get those through Mountaineer Food Bank, so we are low on those items as well.”
She said this Christmas, the Upshur Parish House plans to have 800 Food Boxes to distribute.
“We are asking folks to bring in donations by Friday, Dec. 9 because we will start to pre-package the food baskets by the 12th,” Wilkerson said. “Our curbside distribution begins on Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – December 19, 20 and 21 – the following week, we will distribute food boxes from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.”
Wilkerson said there is no pre-registration required prior to food box pickup, and people may complete the forms when they come to pick up their box.
She said they have seen prices skyrocket this year.
“When we began preparing the Thanksgiving Food Boxes, boxes of stuffing were double the cost as they were last year,” Wilkerson said. “Thankfully, some of that went on sale. The cost of food is up, and we have some neighbors who are really struggling with the cost of food items rising. That is why we are trying to meet the needs of every person who comes in.”
“We are so grateful,” Wilkerson added. “This community is really generous, and we really appreciate how they always step up and help us out. We are certainly seeing a lot of need increase and seeing more neighbors each week seeking help.”
Wilkerson said she heard a story a couple of days ago.
“A child told her teacher she was so excited for Thanksgiving,” Wilkerson shared. “She told her teacher they were getting their turkey from the Parish House and so she knew it was going to be one of the best meals she had in a long time. That breaks your heart, but it is very sweet. Our neighbors appreciate what we do for them, and I want those donating to know how much our neighbors in need appreciate the help they receive.”
The Upshur Parish House is located at 68 College Ave. in Buckhannon.