MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Heart doctors and other Mon Health employees gathered at Pantry Plus More in Morgantown, where they helped distribute and sort roughly 6,000 pounds of food that will be distributed to 13 schools in Monongalia Co.
The food was donated by Mon Health, they do so every second Thursday of the month and also bring some of their employees to help sort the items. The nonprofit was started by Roark Sizemore with the help of his guidance counselor at the time, Tom Bloom, who now serves as the executive director. The two wanted a means of providing food to school pantries after seeing a program at a school that only offered pantry services after school.
The nonprofit doesn’t only provide food, but also clothes and hygiene products. Dr. Rick Smith, an interventional cardiologist, was one of the doctors who helped sort out food and he said it was his first time he had volunteered at Pantry Plus More.
“It’s great,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s an honor to be a part of this and for Mon Health to be able to sponsor such a great program for the community and for the kids in our communities. I have two kids of my own and it’s sad to hear how many kids in this community don’t have the ability to have not only meals, but healthy meals at times.”
Smith said it was a humbling experience that he wanted to share with his two kids by bringing them to volunteer. If his kids had come to volunteer, they would have joined students from Trinity Christian School who volunteered for two hours.
Some Trinity students helped organize food bags in the rain and were bursting with excitement the entire time. It showed every time they were asked to help with another task because seemingly all of them raised their hands or jumped forward to volunteer.
“The thing that’s exciting about today is I can’t believe how many people have shown up,” executive director Tom Bloom said. “We have 17 students from Trinity who are running all over the place trying to help, we have Mon Health and cardiologists because this is (heart) health month. The number one thing we want to say is food is medicine and Dr. Dave Goldberg who is the CEO for Mon Health believes in this and we’re going to do other partnerships.”
Bloom said he was appreciative of First Energy employees who also have a collaboration with the organization. Keith March, the general manager at First Energy’s Contact Center in Fairmont, said the company started a volunteer time-off program in 2019 and then Bloom suggested in December that they use some of those volunteering hours to help Pantry Plus More.
March said “it feels wonderful” because First Energy employees have volunteered over 1,800 hours over the last year at three different nonprofits. The work that they do in conjunction with others who volunteer and donate has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s a really great community effort,” Bloom said. “And it’s so great to see everyone working together and the bottom goal is to help individuals and students who are food deficient, food insecure and also at the same time have personal hygiene items for them.”