The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Food for Families feeds hungry at Twin Valley Food Pantry

7th annual event exceeded last year’s donation

By Carol Quaintance, For Digital First Media

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The 7th Food for Families raised funds for Twin Valley Food Pantry with a raffle, silent auction, vendors and scrap booking crop fundraising event at Conestoga Mennonite Church in Morgantown on Feb. 2 and 3.

“We reached this year’s goal and clearly exceeded last year’s donation to the food pantry!” said Deborah Harry, founder and director of the fundraising event, who could not release this year’s fundraising amount total yet. “The first year we were able to donate $2,500 and in 2017 we donated $7,000.”

Harry said that the event, now in its 7th year, has expanded since the first crop in 2012. Her motto is ‘Ask-Get’.”

“We have been blessed with a loyal group of scrap bookers who can’t wait to register each year to help support the fundraiser,” said Harry. “The event always sells out within a month or two, allowing us to concentrate our efforts on the many other tasks to ensure the event’s success.”

She said key volunteers are Ginny Janoski, Joan Godwin, Linda Smith, Jay and Deana Arndt, Liane Davis, and Linda (Kelly) Zimmerman who the first year designed all the basket arrangements.

“She has now taught us all to style the baskets, her motto is “It’s ALL in the presentation”!”

The lobby of Conestoga Mennonite Church in Morgantown was transformed into a gala of colors with 67 festive raffle baskets and 12 alluring silent auction prizes.

“In 2012, the attendees were so happy they were already asking for the next year’s dates by 3 p.m. that day. The first year was Saturday only with 65 seats sold out. In 2013 we expanded to two days to accommodate the demand. This year we were sold out at 87 seats,” said Harry.

“This is our largest fundraiser and helps us to provide a monthly food distribution and a hot meal to 710 people which includes 81 families,” said Howard Moss, director of the Twin Valley Food Panty. “Since 2008 we’ve grown from 25 families and our needs keep growing. One in 10 Chester County residents skips a meal each day because they can’t afford food. The elderly, the unemployed and under-employed, and the disabled are just a few of the groups of people we aid; in addition to the hurricane victims from Puerto Rico who have been displaced to Berks County.”

He said, “We have never ever run out of food. It is the story of the fishes and loaves; the Lord provides! Working together to serve the community ~where the grace of God feeds the Hungry.”

The church was abuzz with activity answering that need. The chapel, both small and large conference rooms, and youth and nursery rooms were filled. Public vendors including new ones: La Bella Vida by Nataliel; Color Street (nail strips); 800 Furniture LLC, and returning: LuLaRoe, Thirty-One, Posh, Young Living Essential Oils filled the hallway and adjoining room. Croppers, some who traveled from Philadelphia to Allentown and out of state, also had access to private massage rooms and scrapbook vendors.

Kitchen Manager, Kathleen Weaver, and crew were busy in the kitchen feeding them. A highlight was High Point Baptist Academy students returning their sponsored bake sale.

Hosted by Conestoga Mennonite Church in Morgantown, Howard and Carol Moss, food pantry directors, rely on Greater Berks Food Bank and Central Pennsylvania Food Bank as well as community churches, businesses, farms, organizations, and fundraisers like this.

“We understand the needs of our people stretch beyond just food and we try to supply things that food stamps can’t. Pet food is one of the most popular along with baby food and diapers, personal hygiene products, cleaning products and more. There are also special foods for diabetics and gluten-free foods. The generosity is phenomenal. People have dropped off large cases of watermelons, truckers that break down on the turnpike seek us out to bring their entire shipment of food and goods,” said Moss.

“Respect is very important to us. It takes a lot of courage and humility to stand in a food line. That is why eight different local churches come together for this mission. We won’t turn anyone away. People register by income and family size, but we make allowances by need, the size of a W2 doesn’t always match a person’s financial position when they get laid off from work or our facing large medical bills. Ebenezer Church out of Reading is supplying us with translators and documents in Spanish since our demographics have changed. Everything is a symbiotic relationship. That is what community is all about,” Moss added.

The food pantry also provides services such as Still Waters Ministry no-cost counseling, tax preparation, Eastern Mennonite University teaches extension classes, large homeschool groups utilize the campus. They have changed and expanded as culture and needs change.

“There is so much good in the world if we pause to appreciate it: our donors, volunteers, croppers, TWFP, and Conestoga Mennonite Church who graciously allowed us to use the facility,” said Harry.

Harry wanted to thank prize donors: Carl Wingard, Inc. Wallace & Wolitarsky Dental Associates, Philadelphia Phillies, Reading Royals, Wegman’s, AutoZone, Lowe’s, and cash donors: My Pet’s Brace, Paulski’s Tire and Auto Service, Genesis Performance Chiropractic, Austin Landscaping, Inc., Dr. John Perry, Living God Lutheran Church - Honey Brook.

TVFP asks for volunteers and donations. Volunteers are needed every 3rd Wednesday 7 to 9 p.m. to restock the pantry with the food delivery. Volunteers are needed every 4th Tuesday 5 to 8:15 p.m. on Distribution Day to setup, distribution, and tear down tasks at Conestoga Mennonite Church, 2799 Main St. (Hwy 23) Morgantown. For more information, call 610-286-9124 or email info@twinvalleyfoodpantry.org.