All smiles after a successful food drive in Warwood. From left to right: Grow Warwood Pride President Julie Davis, Executive Director of the House of the Carpenter, Mike Linger, and Vice President of Warwood Lions Club, Matt Rafa.
Hope for Tomorrow — Feeding Hunger and Spirit in Our Community
Editor’s note: The IDEAS page is our place for public opinion, a place where a person can express what concerns them about present-day Wheeling. However, there is one major caveat. The author must propose their resolution to the problem. The essay below meets this test.
In a present-day world fraught with tensions, anxieties and uncomfortable emotions, wouldn’t we all like to return to Mayberry — a city without an opioid epidemic, a clashing political system, violence, poverty and hunger? Mayberry was not devoid of all problems, but the problems tackled in each episode seem small in comparison to the difficult issues we are faced with daily. How do we get back to Mayberry?
Current-day problems cannot be tackled alone. We require others in our lives for both good physical and mental health. One of the themes apparent in episodes of the Andy Griffith Show was people working together in the community. On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Warwood Lions Club and Grow Warwood Pride teamed up with the House of the Carpenter and the Warwood Kroger to bring that feeling to the people of Warwood.
Located on Wheeling Island, the House of the Carpenter helps people around the Ohio Valley by providing services and goods while “providing hope for tomorrow.” Last year, they fed nearly 9,000 people, but the extent of their impact is incalculable. They provide food, clothes, art and cooking classes, utility assistance, vacation bible school, ministry services and more! Their backpack food program currently feeds 265 students every weekend, and they are working to expand that program in 2019 to serve far more. With a lot of factors at play, more people are reaching out for assistance; last week, 14 new families came to the food pantry for help.
Lions clubs are well-known as “Knights for the Blind” who collect eyeglasses and provide assistance with eye exams and eyeglasses, but locally and globally, our mission is much more all-encompassing — “to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.” In short, where there is a need, there is a Lion. In January, Lions Club International dedicated the month to hunger awareness, and the Warwood Lions Club took an active part in engaging the very generous Warwood community.
Grow Warwood Pride was founded by community members who were fed up with the status quo of complaints without action. The group has been successful in completing various community improvement projects on a wide variety of topics. From collecting trash littered in the community to establishing a farmers market, Grow Warwood Pride acts to fill a void in the community. They have relocated the gazebo into Garden Park, where weddings and church groups have gathered. They organized a safe Halloween event, known as Trunk or Treat, for three years. Donations to the animal shelter, teachers and schools also make their list of ways of giving back.
Over 20 volunteers from the Warwood Lions Club, Grow Warwood Pride and the House of the Carpenter stood out in the freezing cold for over eight hours to bring awareness to hunger by participating in a food drive to benefit the House of the Carpenter. Volunteers passed out suggested donation item lists and talked to people about the hunger issues in our community and beyond. One shopper exited the store with two canned goods in her hand and a great message for us all.
“I have benefited from the House of the Carpenter food pantry before. I don’t have a lot to give, but if everyone gave a little, we’d have enough.”
It touched the volunteers. As mentioned in a previous Weelunk article, “The Decline of Community,” our organizations are struggling to get volunteers to help, and the House of the Carpenter, Warwood Lions Club and Grow Warwood Pride are no exception. We could do so much more if everyone pitched in a little more — donations of time, money and goods. In this example, it was particularly heartwarming to see someone who benefited from the House of the Carpenter giving back to help people in need now and in the future. The House of the Carpenter truly is providing hope for tomorrow by picking up people when hope is low, and when someone gives back, their ministry and reach is strengthened and broadened. I am truly blessed to have never needed assistance from the House of the Carpenter, but it is so heartwarming to know that the House of the Carpenter and other service organizations exist in the community I call home. We are the Friendly City, but we are also the Giving City!
Subscribe to Weelunk
After one day, the volunteers from three organizations collected 54 banana boxes of non-perishable food and nearly $250 of monetary donations to help those in need! The community of Warwood donated items by the cartful of oatmeal, cereal, peanut butter, spaghetti, saltine crackers, canned vegetables, canned fruit and more! The House of the Carpenter estimates the non-perishable donations totaled nearly $2,000.
Warwood has always been a generous community. Many of us were raised by Warwood to be generous, and that lesson shined through on a blustery cold January day. We put down our cell phones, took off our political affiliations and just focused on what matters: people. This story and others like it will be liked and shared around social media because everyone loves a feel-good story. It’s easy to share a meme on social media or like a post, but opening up your heart to someone you may not know is what community truly is. We all succeed or fall as a community. Get active in your community and give your two canned goods of effort. Far more benefit when we all roll up our sleeves, and although that Mayberry utopia seems out of reach, it’s closer than you think. All you need to do is give a little and encourage your friends and neighbors to give a little. Together, that is the wealth of community.
MORE WAYS TO HELP:
• The House of the Carpenter is preparing for their Souper Bowl of Caring from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8. Tickets for lunch (dine-in or carryout) are available starting at $10, which includes choice of soup, salad, breadsticks, dessert and beverage — or for $25, take home a handmade bowl made by a local artist. For more information, call 304-233-4640. Proceeds support the House of the Carpenter’s Hunger Ministries.
The House of the Carpenter is located at 200 S. Front St. on Wheeling Island. Your monetary, time, clothing and food donations are accepted anytime. Find out more about all their services to the community at www.thehouseofthecarpenter.com or on Facebook.
• The Warwood Lions Club is preparing for its next project, Childhood Cancer Awareness Blanket Making, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, at Corpus Christ Cafeteria. We want the community to participate with us in one of two ways:
1. Sponsor a blanket (cash, check or credit card) — you may make it in memory or honor of a loved one.
2. Join us at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Corpus Christi Cafeteria for an evening of blanket making with a movie.
The Warwood Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of every month, and you are always welcome! Contact us in advance and join us for dinner at 6 p.m. before the meeting to experience Warwood community firsthand. Find out more about all our efforts to help the Warwood community and beyond at www.warwoodlionsclub.org or on Facebook.
• Grow Warwood Pride is gearing up to finish its fence painting project at Garden Park this spring and spread its little free library program around the city. In particular, Grow Warwood Pride will be participating in the W.Va. Make It Shine Statewide Cleanup during the first two weeks of April. If you or your organization wish to participate with us, please email us at email@example.com.
Grow Warwood Pride meets at 6 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of every month and you are always welcome! Find out more about all our efforts to help the Warwood community on Facebook.
• Matt Rafa s a pharmacist serving the Warwood community for six years. He is the employed pharmacy director for the West Virginia Pharmacy Association, vice president of the Warwood Lions Club, a founder of Grow Warwood Pride, market chair of the Warwood Farmers Market and vice president of programs for the Boy Scouts Ohio River Valley Council. He has served each of these organizations for a combined 17 years.