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New this year is the Parish House Easter Food Boxes which include a ham, potatoes, canned vegetables and a dessert. Boxes will be available for curbside pickup on March 27, 29, 30 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Folks wanting an Easter Food Box must be Upshur County residents. Parish House Director Kristi Wilkerson and greeter David Rowan show some of the items that will be included in these pilot program boxes, which Wilkerson said she hopes to be able to offer in upcoming years.

Parish House returns to ‘new normal,’ reinstating most of its services, adding new Easter Box program

BUCKHANNON – Mandates because of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a scaling back of services provided by The Parish House.

However, Director Kristi Wilkerson sat down with My Buckhannon on Tuesday morning and said that finally after a year, most services are returning – including Thursday bag lunches – and a brand-new offering: Easter Food Boxes.

On Tuesday, wonderful smells of berry bars baking wafted from The Parish House kitchen as volunteers from West Virginia Wesleyan College service scholars worked to bake treats for the Thursday bag lunches, which will be available for pickup on the front porch of the Parish House this Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. at 68 College Ave. in Buckhannon.

“We cannot do our hot lunches,” Wilkerson said. “They used to be Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon. But just this week, we are starting to offer our bag lunches again. Sometimes it is a sandwich – but they are take-out meals.”

Wilkerson said at the present time, they cannot let folks into the building to eat the lunches, but said they are available for people to pick up and take with them. She said they will be available on the front porch of the Parish House.

“Anyone in need of a meal is welcome to come pick one up,” Wilkerson said. “Brother Roy Madigan, S.M. used to serve at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. He is on sabbatical, and he spends three days a week with us in service. He is coordinating those lunches and he has a team of volunteers, most from Holy Rosary that will be helping with the to-go lunches. I think the neighbors will be so excited to see them. Brother Roy is one of their favorites.”

Wilkerson said with the pandemic, they are unsure how many lunches to prepare for because numbers have varied greatly.

“Brother Roy will iron out all of the kinks,” Wilkerson said. “We will start doing more as we are able to open up more.”

Another new item the Parish House has added this year is the Easter Food Boxes. Wilkerson said the reason for this ministry is two-fold.

“We want to continue to fight food insecurity, and we also want to celebrate the Easter holiday with our neighbors and the residents of Upshur County,” she said. “As we are preparing the Easter Food Boxes, we could still use some donated cans of green beans and potatoes – instant mashed potatoes, boxed scalloped potatoes or canned yams.”

Wilkerson said people do not need to pre-register to receive an Easter Food Box.

“Neighbors can get a form ahead of time or on the day they come to pick one up,” Wilkerson said.

Distribution of Easter Food Boxes begins on Saturday, March 27 and will be a curbside pickup from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Folks will pull up out front and they will give us the form and we will give them their Easter Food Box with the goodies inside,” Wilkerson said. “The boxes contain items for a full dinner including a ham, potatoes, canned vegetables and a dessert. There are some extra items including granola bars and fruit and nut mix.”

The Parish House operates a food pantry and helps neighbors with rent and utility bills and provides food baskets for holidays, layettes for new mothers and diapers for those in need. Volunteer Roger Ward works to fill food pantry bags for neighbors in need.

Along with the Easter Food Boxes, Wilkerson said they will be distributing hand sanitizer – an item they purchased through a grant – along with some personal hygiene items.

Easter Food Boxes will also be available on March 29, 30 and 31 curb side from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We did curbside deliver for Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Boxes, and that process worked beautifully,” Wilkerson said. “The staff and volunteers had the system down. It was something of a silver lining. Without the pandemic, I do not know if we would have changed that process but we found it worked better than before so we will probably continue that in the future.”

She did remind neighbors the Easter Food Baskets are available for Upshur County residents only.

“This is the first year for the Easter Food Baskets and we are calling it a pilot program. For this to continue depends on the success of the program, funding and things like that,” Wilkerson shared. “Hopefully, the program will work out and we can continue it into the future.”

While social distancing continues, Wilkerson said the Parish House primarily serves neighbors by phone and said folks can still come and knock on the door during regular business hours if they require assistance.

Services Wilkerson said are available through the Parish House include assistance with rent and utilities. The Parish House runs a food pantry.

“We continue to offer all the same things we did before the pandemic,” she said. “This includes diapers, and we offer a layette program where expecting or new mothers can get a basket filled with newborn infant supplies.”

Other items available include laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items, Wilkerson said.

“We have face masks and gators if someone needs that, we can happily give those out,” she added.

The Clothes Closet, which sells gently used and new clothing items and housewares, is open and Wilkerson said currently, the shop is running specials.

“Right now, we have winter clothing on sale – pants and shirts – for 25 cents each,” she said. “Beginning in April, we will be switching over to spring clothing. We continue to accept gently used, clean items at the Clothes Closet and they are located at 47 Sedgwick St. in Buckhannon.”

Wilkerson said they are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and said anyone wanting to shop should call 304-471-2290 to make an appointment to shop. Those folks just showing up to shop may do so depending on the availability of social distancing. The Clothes Closet accepts cash or checks.

Volunteers work to create bag lunches which will be available on Thursdays at the Parish House from noon to 1 p.m. beginning this Thursday. Those working on the lunches include Caroline Fulks, Hali Wescott, Brother Roy Madigan, S.M. and Parish House Director Kristi Wilkerson. The lunches will be available for pickup at the Parish House, located at 68 College Ave. in Buckhannon.

For those wandering how to help The Parish House, Wilkerson said they are accepting food and monetary donations. She said the Clothes Closet needs gently used clothing and housewares.

“If someone wants to call or check our Facebook page, we always put up the items we are looking for on there,” Wilkerson said. “Folks can also send us a contribution and that is tax deductible.”

The Facebook page is at Upshur Cooperative Parish: Parish House and Crosslines Inc. and their phone number is 304-472-0743. The email address is http://www.parishhouse.org/.

Those wanting to volunteer at the Parish House or the Clothing Closet should contact Wilkerson.

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