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Upshur Cooperative Parish is already collecting items for holiday food boxes. Here’s how you can help.

BUCKHANNON – It’s never too early to begin planning for the holidays, and for the Upshur Cooperative Parish House, that’s especially true in 2021.

Like many years in the past, the Upshur Cooperative Parish House will be helping neighbors in need by providing Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes. Kristi Wilkerson, director of the Parish House, said they have already started preparing for the holiday food boxes.

“Again, we anticipate there will be around 700 requests for Thanksgiving food boxes and 600 requests for Christmas food boxes,” Wilkerson said. “We are starting to share information early this year because we have been told some items may be difficult to find.”

Wilkerson said as the Parish House and volunteers prepped to deliver backpacks and school supplies to students, they discovered that because of the worldwide pandemic’s effect on supply-and-demand, some items are difficult to find. She said another barrier is that due to COVID-19, some items cost more.

“We are looking for some items now,” Wilkerson said. “The help of the community is going to be even more important than in years past.”

Wilkerson shared some of the items people may donate to the Parish House that would assist in filling the need for holiday food baskets. She said for Thanksgiving, they are looking for donations of boxes and bags of instant mashed potatoes; boxes of stuffing mix; gravy mixes; canned pumpkin pie mix; cans of green beans; and Jiffy pie crust mixes.

For the Christmas boxes they are requesting donations of canned yams, canned sweet potatoes, canned corn, cans of pork and beans, boxes of stuffing, cake mixes and frosting.

“Any monetary donations we receive for the holiday food boxes would go toward purchasing the meats that go along with the boxes,” Wilkerson said. “Boxes of stuffing, canned pumpkin pie mix and Jiffy pie crust mixes have been a little more difficult to locate. These are the items we are looking for.”

Wilkerson said donated items may be dropped off at the Parish House, located at 68 College Ave., anytime during their regular hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Folks who wish to drop off items outside of the regular hours are advised to call the Parish House at 304-472-0743 or send a message through Facebook to arrange for alternative times to drop off donations.

“We will work out another time for delivery,” Wilkerson said.

This will be the second holiday season the group is facing while still contending with a worldwide pandemic and Wilkerson said last year, there was a 15 percent increase in the number of families who requested help with holiday food boxes.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the Parish House has seen a 300 percent increase in new families coming to us for assistance,” she shared. “Families who have never come to us in the past are now making requests for assistance and generally, it is pandemic-related in some way. Those are pretty large numbers for us.”

“We always try to have a cushion in case we have an increase so we can be prepared for those families who need us,” Wilkerson said. “The holiday boxes distributed by the Parish House are only for Upshur County residents.”

The dates for distribution of the holiday food boxes include curbside for Thanksgiving beginning Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, and Christmas beginning Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. The Parish House will also be distributing the weeks following those dates Monday through Friday.

“Times and the particulars for the distribution will be announced on our Facebook page,” Wilkerson said. “Folks do not have to reserve a food basket. If they come a week or two before the distribution begins, they can come and pick up the forms and fill it out. Forms will also be available to fill out on the day they come to pick up their holiday basket.”

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