United Way teams up with other nonprofits to provide free Thanksgiving meals

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties is teaming up with other local nonprofits to help provide roughly 1,000 Thanksgiving meals.

The United Way is partnering with Pantry Plus More and the Preston County Workshop to provide an entire Thanksgiving meal to families on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Servando Arredondo, United Way’s engagement manager, said there would be turkeys, pumpkin pies, biscuits, stuffing, canned goods, and, of course, cranberry sauce. All in all, people will be receiving anywhere from 30-60 pounds of food.

It makes me very happy to be able to work with the different agencies that we’re working with to make this happen. I mean, we hear stories all the time about people being so appreciative of these boxes that have been going out for months now. And then, just especially during the holidays and everything, sometimes those are a little bit rough for people. So to be able to provide a little bit of relief to anybody who is asking — it’s a great opportunity, and I’m glad we have the ability to help people and just be there for them.

Servando Arredondo – Engagement Manager, United Way

This is all possible through funding from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, which helped create Helpful Harvest, a United Way initiative to tackle food insecurity. Helpful Harvest has been offering boxed meals to those in need for a few months, which Arredondo was referring to.

Arredondo said the new feeding program has helped thousands thus far and is critical to the Thanksgiving operation this year. United Way’s partners in this endeavor are also just as important, he added.

Arredondo operating forklift during food packing

Preston Co. Workshop has helped to store dried goods and perishables at their facility. Through the help of John Hyre, its chief executive officer, and president, United Way was able to fine-tune its ordering process, Arredondo said.

“This really isn’t something we were a part of in the past, but we’ve been able to hit the ground running with this program,” Arredondo said. “And like I said, we’ve worked with pantries in Mon and Preston counties.”

The pantry they will be working with to make this all possible is Pantry Plus More (PPM), another important partner in making all of this happen. Arredondo said PPM provided volunteers on Friday so that the nonperishable food items could be organized and boxed well in advance of the giveaway.

“They’ve been amazing,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo said he is grateful for the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust for providing the funding, which is vital because there would be no food to give out without it.

He also thanks other partners, saying they have been critical in organizing, and without them, there would be a lot of food but no proper storage or mechanism to give it away.

“I want to say thank you to Pantry Plus for being an amazing partner and working with us and helping us to get all the volunteers out here and getting families and everything signed up,” Arredondo said. “And then to the workshop, none of this would be possible without them. Their ability to store and help us order because we have no idea what we’re doing with that stuff. Without John, we would not be able to have any of this stuff here, so I want to say thank you to everybody for all the help and all the product and everything.”

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