On Tuesday, Belinda Toms' office was brimming with nonperishable goods - glass jars of applesauce, plastic containers of peanut butter and cans of peas, green beans and corn, were stacked to the ceiling.
Toms, the executive director of Tyrand Cooperative Ministries in Mill Creek, said her work space wouldn't stay full for long. On Thursday, the Christian-based outreach ministry plans to disburse baskets of goods to roughly 100 families in southern Randolph County.
Still yet to be filled, the Christmas baskets will be loaded with ham, canned vegetables, bread, butter, milk and cookies.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Belinda Toms, executive director of Tyrand Cooperative Ministries, and secretary Suzanne Hite, left, display the slew of food that will be distributed to residents in need via Christmas baskets.
"We don't want anyone to go hungry at Christmas," Toms said.
Just down the hall from Toms' office is a fully stocked pantry, thanks to donations from generous organizations and individuals in the community, Toms said. The pantry had been completely depleted in the days following the landing of Superstorm Sandy.
"After the first three days of the storm, we were completely empty," Toms said, "but the community really pulled together, not only to refill the pantry, but to fill the Christmas baskets."
Serving people in need is, after all, the mission of the Christian-based organization, which has been in operation since 1962. In fact, in 2012 alone it aided 2,500 to 3,000 people in southern Randolph County, Toms said - and many of them turned to Tyrand for a variety of reasons.
"The two disasters (the June 29 derecho and Superstorm Sandy) in one year have really been hard on the communities," Toms said. "We've seen an increase in the number of people we serve. People who used to donate to us come to us for food."
Tyrand offers a comprehensive register of services for people in need, including home repair, financial assistance and emergency assistance. The faith-based organization also opens a back-to-school store and Christmas store that enables people to "shop" for much-needed school supplies and Christmas gifts and pay little or nothing for the items.
"There are prices on some of the items because people wouldn't come to the store if they couldn't pay at least something," Toms said.
Toms says Tyrand Ministries serves people in all corners of southern Randolph, including Pickens, Helvetia and even Slady Fork, which is located in Pocahontas County, just over the Randolph County line. The executive director says Tyrand couldn't do what it does without a dependable and dedicated group of volunteers. Toms and those volunteers are often humbled by the pain they see, she said.
"People donate cans of food, but unless you see the faces of the people, you don't know what it's really like," Toms said. "The hugs and the handshakes... they hurt and you hurt with them."
For more information about how to help, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 304-335-2788 or write to Tyrand Cooperative Ministries, Inc., P.O. Box 365, Mill Creek, WV, 26280.