BUCKHANNON – The Upshur Cooperative Parish House, which assists neighbors in need, recently received grant funding to help them help others more efficiently.
On Tuesday, Lions Club District Governor Susan Long, along with representatives from local Lions clubs and the Buckhannon-Upshur Rotary Club, presented checks to the Parish House Executive Director Kristi Wilkerson which allowed the Parish House to purchase a new flatbed truck for its food pantry. Local Lions clubs donated $4,000, the Buckhannon-Upshur Rotary Club donated $5,000 and the hunger grant from Lions Club International was nearly $32,000.
“This is an incredible gift that we received from the Lions Club International Foundation, our local Lions clubs and our local Rotary club,” Wilkerson said. “We have been taking five or six pickup trucks with volunteers to pick up our food from Mountaineer Food Bank. This new vehicle will allow us to get everything on one truck and handle the products only once instead of four times. This will make it so much easier and so much better.”
Wilkerson said the food pantry at the Upshur Parish House orders between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds of food each month from the Mountaineer Food Bank to distribute to neighbors in need.
“As we continue to grow, this vehicle will help us be able to transport the food back and forth and allow us to get it ready for those who are facing food insecurities,” Wilkerson said, adding that since the pandemic began, they are serving more and more families in need. “Right now, we are serving 75 to 100 people a week, which is 300 to 400 a month.”
Wilkerson said she was ‘so stinking excited’ to celebrate the day and the acquisition of the new flatbed truck. About two years ago, Upshur Parish House Finance Chairperson and Lion member Gary Frush said they would need a new truck and suggested getting that sooner than later.
“Gary said we should see about applying for a hunger grant from Lions Club International,” Wilkerson said. “Since then, we had been talking about it and working on it, and following a year of working to get the paperwork together and submitted, we have arrived at today.
“Again, we are so excited by the generosity of our local Lions clubs, Lions Club International and the Buckhannon-Upshur Rotary Club. We are blessed that when we have a need, the two groups that always step up — our Lions clubs and our Rotary club — and we are fortunate to partner with both groups, each and every day.”
Long, the district governor, said she was excited as well.
“I have done grants before, but this one happened so fast,” Long said. “When the board met and approved this grant, I called Kristi, and it was wonderful. LCIF and Lions Club International love working with partners and I am so glad we were able to work with Rotary to be able to help you get this truck. That is what we are here for, working together and collaboration.”
Buckhannon-Upshur Rotary Club President Kathy McMurray said the club is honored to be able to help support projects such as this one with the Upshur Parish House.
“It is something that is near and dear to our hearts,” McMurray said.
Rick Swearengin, District Superintendent for the United Methodist Church, offered a prayer of dedication for the new vehicle before everyone gathered outside to see the new flatbed truck.
Wilkerson said she and everyone at the Upshur Parish House are immensely grateful for the funds to purchase the new truck and so thankful for everyone who helps them in their pursuit to help others.
“I want to say how immensely grateful we are to Lions Club, the Rotary and everyone in our community,” Wilkerson said. “They always do everything they can to help us help our neighbors in need. We are so grateful.”
The Upshur Cooperative Parish House is a mission project of the W.Va. United Methodist Church that assists with the basic needs of low-income Upshur County families, according to a press release. Since 1992, the Parish House has offered various services and programs to its neighbors in need, including the operation of a food pantry, rent and utility financial assistance, holiday food boxes, clothing vouchers, hot lunches, backpacks and school supplies and referral to other agencies and community organizations.
The Upshur Parish House is located at 68 College Ave. in Buckhannon and is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Clothes Closet, located at 47 Sedgwick St. in Buckhannon, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Additional information about the Upshur Parish House is available by calling 304-472-0743.