REEDSVILLE, W.Va. (WBOY) — Preston County Workshop and the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties (UWMPC)’s Helpful Harvest Program teamed up to provide food to 40 veteran families in their local area just in time for Thanksgiving.

On the morning of Nov. 17, the two organizations met up to help package the meals and load them up onto trucks to go out into the community. The bags of food that went out included several different items, including hams, produce and various kinds of dry goods—such as sugar and flour.

“I think that we’re just hoping to make this time of year a little easier on them, take something off of their plate for Thanksgiving,” Nick Gallagher, the Helpful Harvest Program Manager for UWMPC said. “And make sure that they know we appreciate them and the community appreciates them.”

Volunteers from the Vietnam Veterans of America Preston County Chapter 977 came to the food packing event to assist with loading and distributing the meals. According to Gallagher, these volunteers also selected the 40 veterans in the community who would receive food from this event.

“So they all knew them within the community,” Gallagher said. “They knew where the need was, they knew families that would need it would appreciate this food. So, they are distributing it, they made the selections, and they know the people that need the food. We’re happy to get it to them.”

Gallagher said that since veterans served our country, it’s important to make sure that they’re not forgotten, especially around the holidays. “Times are hard right now for a lot of people, and if we can help anybody like that, we really want to and we have the resources here to do it,” he added.

Gallagher also credits the partnership with Preston County Workshop as a resource to help allow the UWMPC to be able to have events similar to this one. “We’re always happy to get involved with other organizations as well.”

“I just think that this is a really good example of what we can do as the United Way Helpful Harvest partnering with other organizations, it’s really important to us,” said Gallagher. “I think that that’s the way to go to really make an impact on the community, and I hope to do a lot more of it in the future.”

The Helpful Harvest Food Program first came about in May 2020 to address food insecurity during the pandemic. However, according to a release provided by the UWMPC, “this program also disrupts entrenched norms of food pantries providing unhealthy, nutritionally insufficient foods to those in need because of the food’s affordability and availability.”

This program operates out of Preston County Workshop, as well as Hazel’s House of Hope in Morgantown. This allows them to serve about 48 feeding programs, and 10,893 across both Monongalia and Preston Counties each month.