Small towns are not pre-destined to be centralized locations for nice, supportive people. Despite the general idea that small towns are safe, secure, and tightly knit, there is no legal obligation that says small towns must adhere to these stereotypes. Indeed, in these troubling times, it may be forgiven if some small towns turn inward and become a little less far reaching with their objectives. That is what makes Marietta particularly special. There IS no obligation upon this small river town to be so wonderful, yet it happens anyway, through the effort of countless people in infinite ways.

Over the last two weeks, two different efforts that I know of have been hosted and supported by the community with the goal of helping to feed the hungry. It is hard to believe, as we begin to contemplate our Thanksgiving meals, that there are people right here in our town, right here in our country (one of the richest in the world) who are going hungry every day. There are kids who are going to school hungry. They are coming home hungry, and they are going to bed hungry. It is especially hard to contemplate this at the same time that we contemplate gorging ourselves in a tryptophan dream. These two realities seem like they could not co-exist in the same place. That is why this time of year is the perfect time to spend a little effort in supporting organizations that give those hungry tummies something to eat.

100,000 Meals

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, several community businesses and organizations gathered teams at the location where Food 4 Less recently existed. Each team that participated donated $1,000, which was used to purchase the food that would become countless meal kits. Actually, I should not say “countless.” The goal of this effort was to make 100,000 meals. The event last year exceeded the goal of making 10,000 meals, but this seemed like a pretty radical objective. Walking into the Food 4 Less building, however, you immediately got the sensation that it just might be possible. The entire building was filled with table after table of eager volunteers dressed in super sexy hair protectors, beard protectors, aprons, and gloves. Everyone was itching to get started as soon as they got there, especially those of us who had done this last year and knew that getting into a groove was a key to mass production.

Volunteers from the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta teamed up with a second table to help pack meals.

Last year, the only meals we produced were bean and rice concoctions. This year a variety of meals were provided, including macaroni & cheese, which our group assembled. Cheers started echoing through the large building as team after team filled box after box. Each box required 36 perfectly filled bags. By that I mean each bag that was completed had to be right around 350 grams. I know that number because at my table, I was one of the people manipulating the bags, scooping in and scooping out to reach that magical weight.

In just two hours, this group of Mid-Ohio superstars actually once again exceeded the goal of 100,000 meals. It is wonderful to think that all of those boxes are going to be made available, at this time of year, to the people who need it most.

Music for the Cause

Less than a week after that event, on Friday, November 10th, The Adelphia Music Hall hosted a “Music for the Cause” event that benefitted the Gospel Mission Food Pantry of Marietta. Jeff and Candy Waite have been running this food pantry since 2009. The pantry is open to everyone and there is no limit on how many times people can visit the location at 309 Lancaster Street. The pantry is open 11-4 every Wednesday but arrangements can be made if food is needed before Wednesday hits. The Adelphia’s Music for the Cause events are concerts where all ticket sales go directly to the nonprofit being supported. Bands  play knowing that their time and talents are being donated as part of the effort. Friday’s concert featured The Last Minute Honky Tonk Band, John Walsh & Friends, The Sunset Roosters, and Jake Dunn and the Blackbirds. The event raised close to $1,000, plus some canned goods were collected for the pantry as well.

Retailers downtown are getting ready for the busy holiday shopping season, and everyone is beginning to plot what items they will give to friends and family. Some crazy crafters like me are already coming up with excuses as to why our gifts are (once again) going to be approximately six months late. It is delightful to me to know that with all of that going on, there is still an intense spirit of giving here in this community. Many other fundraisers have happened and will happen benefiting other causes and events. It is difficult to keep up with all of the “do-gooding” in this area. That is just one of the things that makes the MOV so special.

100,000 Meals photos taken by Lisa Miller.

Music for the Cause photos taken by Larry Clayman.