KINGSTON — There is a tiny, food-filled room in the Faith Lutheran Church in Kingston that has helped feed mouths and bring joy to families on Christmas day for the past 20 years.
But Vi Weaver’s Kingston Food Bank has been around twice as long as that, starting 40 years ago when the community came together to help Weaver and her husband while they were living in Hansville.
While the couple was going through some difficult times due to her husband’s severe case of arthritis, residents helped out by donating food and money.
As a result, Weaver decided to thank the community for its generosity by opening a food bank in her home.
She hasn’t stopped since then.
“This is a payback,” Weaver said. “We can help now. We’re helping others who are having a hard time now.”
Weaver, her daughter Barb Fulton and a small group of family and friends work out of the room in the West First Street church throughout the year, trying to keep the shelves stacked with everything they can to help those in need. The group works especially hard to create annual Christmas food baskets, Weaver said.
Even so, volunteers have set a basket quota so they are not overwhelmed by too many requested. They peaked at 102 baskets one year and decided that was too much to handle. This year, the limit is 67.
The most needed item this year is meat, Weaver and Fulton agreed.
Chicken and hamburger are in high demand. But the real “meat” in the food bank business is the community. The organization gets “tremendous” support from Albertson’s while area residents make regular stops at the food bank to donate.
Weaver said one man makes a huge drop off right before Thanksgiving and Christmas every year, providing items such as pancake mix, peanut butter and cereal.
But Weaver said she was most impressed with the pre-school children from down the street who came by recently to drop off a wagon full of collected food and tour the bank.
“(The kids) were impressed that what they brought will help several families,” Weaver said, noting that one teacher even offered to “adopt” a family at the end of the field trip. By “adopting,” businesses and residents can sponsor families — purchasing food and presents for them for the holiday.
“Puzzles, paint-by-numbers — the older kids like them,” Weavers suggested for toys. “I like them!”
During the year, Weaver makes sure no one “double dips” — trying to get food from one food bank one week and then going to another the following week.
“You can’t take from two food banks,” she said. “That’s taking food from someone else!”
Like other area food banks, slim economic times in past year haven’t been easiest for the Kingston organization.
“It’s been a hard year for everyone,” Weaver said of those who receive and donate the food. “They come and bring what they can (this year).”
Weaver doesn’t forget the area’s generous souls after the holidays, either — she sends out personalized thank you letters to everyone who donated throughout the season.