The ST. JAMES FOOD PANTRY helped over 1,600 families in the Upper Ohio Valley in 2013. March Madness due by March 20 at NOON.

2008: 662 families - 1,222 individuals

2009: 1,048 families - 2,127 individuals

2010: 1,318 families - 2,620 individuals

2011: 1,469 families - 2,862 individuals

2012: 1,471 families - 3,035 individuals

2013: 1,638 families - 4,025 individuals

St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the oldest churches in Wheeling, West Virginia. What began as a small German church grew into a larger congregation where parishioners have gathered since 1856.

Due to the decline of the local population, as well as the transfer to suburban houses of worship, our membership has decreased over the years. Despite the current limited size of our small congregation (approximately 50 regular worshipers), we all participate in helping with the charitable programs which were started long ago.

Our most noteworthy charitable program is our Food Pantry, which started eighteen years ago as a vision by a recently deceased parishioner, Anna Lou Lenz. The St. James Lutheran Food Pantry provides non-perishable and perishable food and also fresh produce to less fortunate families and individuals in the Ohio Valley area. What began with only a small bag of groceries being distributed to a few families has now developed into a program which provides food for literally thousands in Ohio and Marshall Counties in West Virginia and Belmont County in Ohio.

With the help of many volunteers from St. James, as well as their friends and families, we supplied groceries to 662 families and 1222 individuals in 2008; 1048 families and 2128 individuals in 2009; 1318 families and 2620 individuals in 2010; and 1469 families and 2862 individuals in 2011; 1471 families and 3035 individuals in 2012; 1638 families with 4025 individuals in 2013. This is over a 200 percent increase in just five years. Hunger is a horrifying reality, and these statistics are proof within just one downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, church.

Our distribution is held every fourth Tuesday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon; however, if a family or individual needs assistance, we are happy to accommodate them at other times of the month to insure that those in need are supplied with food.

Our newest and very exciting endeavor is the “Seeds for the Soul” Garden. In May 2013, a group of our congregants tilled, cultivated, and planted a 400 square foot vegetable garden on a plot of land immediately behind the sanctuary on Chapline Street. This urban garden yields tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini for distribution at our monthly Food Pantry and to anyone in need free-of-charge.

Unfortunately, food prices have been on the rise, particularly over the past several years. Despite our fundraising efforts, including our recent St. James Yard and Bake Sale, as well as our annual October Fair, which has been converted into a Penny Auction, we are finding that it has become increasingly difficult to raise adequate funds to continue our mission.

We realize that you undoubtedly receive many requests for contributions and may have already allotted your maximum contributions for this year. Nonetheless, your support of our Food Pantry will go to assist needy families and individuals in our local community.

For more information on our other programs, please visit our website:

http://www.stjameswheeling.com

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