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Residents grateful for emergency food

Brittany Metz would be at her wits end if it weren't for the Salvation Army.

The 20-year-old South Charleston resident lost every bit of food she had in her refrigerator when superstorm Sandy knocked out her power.

Metz didn't just have herself to worry about. She also has a 6-month-old baby girl.

"If it wasn't for them (Salvation Army) we wouldn't have any food," Metz said.

The Salvation Army received more than 900 boxes of food for emergency distribution in the Kanawha and Roane County areas. About 128 boxes were sent to the Spencer Salvation Army thrift store at 218 Market St. Distribution will start at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

About 128 boxes were sent to Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Sissonville for distribution to the needy in that area.

That leaves about 600 boxes at the Tennessee Avenue Salvation Army in Charleston.

However, Capt. Aaron Goldfarb, area commander, hopes the food doesn't stay on the shelves long.  

"We want to get this food out to people and in their refrigerators as quickly as possible," he said. "We want people to come in now to get them."  

The boxes contain a "hodgepodge" of different items, including canned food and other non-perishables like cereal and pasta. Toiletries are also included.

In order to get food to those in desperate need, the local Salvation Army has relaxed its intake standards, Goldfarb said.

Typically, the Salvation Army only opens its food pantry once every three months. However, the organization has waived that timeframe and is handing out one box of food per person at the West Side location.

"We're in emergency mode so we're handing out all of the boxes starting today," Goldfarb said on Monday.  

Those seeking assistance need only to fill out a simple, one-page application to receive a box, Goldfarb said.

Metz's mother, Shannon Williams, 41, of South Charleston, was very pleased that the Salvation Army had opted to begin distributing food boxes as soon as they arrived. Like her daughter, Williams lost everything in her refrigerator.

She called various charities trying to find food, only to learn that the agencies were distributing goods on their normal schedules, she said.

"The Salvation Army was the only one that offered me food today," Williams said when she was picking up her box of items.

Kerri Hill, 33, of Poca, picked up a box of food Monday for a different reason; her husband  recently lost his job.

Like so many others, Hill was unsure what she would have done for food if not for the Salvation Army. She has five children between the ages of 8 and 16.

"It would have been really hard to get by," she said.

Lori Urmetz, 44, of Poca was also having a hard time making ends meet.

"This is incredible," she said after picking up her box.

The boxes contained about $50 to $60 worth of food and other items, such as toilet paper, Goldfarb said. This is the largest distribution shipment he has received at the Charleston location since he took over as area commander a year and a half ago, he said.

Although the Salvation Army has about 600 boxes on hand, the food pantry's cupboards are bare and in dire need of contributions.

Goldfarb is now seeing more and more people asking for help.

"We're seeing people that were donors last year coming in for assistance this year," he said.  

Anyone wanting to donate food, or money to buy food, can call 304-343-4548 or on the website at www.charlestonsalvation Donations also are accepted at the Charleston facility.  

The Charleston Salvation Army will be handing out the food boxes from 8 a.m. until noon and then from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday until the boxes are gone. Those wishing to pick up food at the Spencer thrift store can do so starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The boxes will then be handed out at Spencer from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Friday or until supplies run out.

The distribution of food at Aldersgate United Methodist Church will take place 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at ;  


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