ELKINS - The holiday season is a time of coming together, but also a time for awareness of those in need. Fortunately, there are many volunteers and organizations in the community willing to help others.
Catholic Charities West Virginia in Elkins is providing aid for people during the holidays by preparing Thanksgiving baskets for families in need.
Cindy Hammer, the regional director of Catholic Charities, said this year the agency was able to distribute 357 Thanksgiving baskets.
St. Brendan Church and St. Patrick's Church of Coalton helped provide 200 of the baskets for Catholic Charities in Elkins.
On Saturday Vietnam veterans donated 25 turkeys and Thanksgiving meals to be taken to the Catholic Charities in Webster Springs for distribution to needy families in their community.
Catholic Charities also received enough cash donations to purchase the ingredients for the remaining baskets and the chickens and turkeys needed to ensure a traditional meal for those who had signed up.
The baskets were put together by a group of 10 athletes from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee from Davis & Elkins College. Last Wednesday, Children and adults from the Word of Faith Preparatory Academy of Elkins helped Catholic Charities staff and volunteers begin to pass out the baskets and a chicken or turkey depending on the size of the family.
The remainder of the Thanksgiving meals were given away on Thursday and Friday by volunteers and staff.
"We have a staff of 35 volunteers who are dedicated to feeding 440 families every month," said Hammer. "They work hard and they are great. We also rely on donations and support from the community to keep us functioning and helping us give to as many people as possible.
"We thank everybody in the community who has been able to help this and every year. Thanksgiving takes on a whole new meaning in Elkins with the generosity of our community."
Hammer said the agency takes great care to treat people with respect and dignity to develop relationships with those who look to them in their time of need.
The Salvation Army is also giving out Thanksgiving baskets to those in need in the area. Volunteer Laura Hedrick said the number of families who need assistance in the community has stayed fairly consistent over the years.
Hedrick also acknowledged the importance of community help and support in helping the Salvation Army provide help for the needy.
"We appreciate their help," she said. "People jump in and are not afraid to volunteer their time. We wouldn't be able to do what we do, to help those that we are able to help, with that support from the community."
The Randolph County Homeless Shelter, which functions under the North Central West Virginia Community Action group, provides many services for those in need not only during the holidays but throughout the year.
The facility is committed to providing a safe, sanitary and cost-effective means of sheltering individuals and families who have little or no means of support. Officials regard the emergency sheltering of homeless individuals and families as part of an overall framework to prepare the homeless for self-sufficiency.
Cindy Hamrick, the coordinator of the Randolph County Homeless Shelter, said the shelter has a 15-bed capacity. The facility holds six males, four females and one family unit, which allows four to five people in a household.
Residents go through an application process that covers all of the requirements that would make them eligible to stay in the shelter.
"We get a referral form that has basic information, like their name and their situation," said Hamrick. "We ask them where they stayed the night before and if they have somewhere to stay for the following night. We are also interested in their medical history and criminal record."
Once residents stay at the shelter, they work with case management and service plans that provide a framework for providing independent living skills and seeking permanent housing.
"We make sure that once the residents leave our facility they are better equipped to be self-sustaining and re-acclimate themselves to a comfortable living situation," Hamrick said.
Contact Chad Clem by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.