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Project Manna in Belmont County both gives and receives help for the hungry


The Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Dominion Energy donated hundreds of dollars worth of groceries to an area food pantry.

There was a lot going on inside the tiny building in Bethesda known as Project Manna.

The groceries arrived first: people carried in cases of food.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Dominion Energy had asked ahead of time what they needed.

“It’s a lot of stuff that you would probably think,” said Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “It’s the canned goods, the cereals, the pastas, stuff that’s easy for maybe kids at home to make.”

And then came the people.

Project Manna is unique among food pantries, as they don’t just hand people a pre-packed box of food.

“They shop and they take what they want, not what they’re just given,” said Phyllis Barker, volunteer. “And if there are things they don’t like, they can substitute it with something else. It’s a wonderful program.”

“They take a cart and they just go around to each section and they help themselves,” explained Jerry Rush, volunteer.

Volunteers act as personal assistants.

“I’ve got toothbrushes and toothpaste here,”  a volunteer told one customer.

“Folks come in, and if we’re out of something, they say ‘OK, we’re just grateful for what we can get,’ ” said Rush.

Tags show how many items they can take, based on their family size. Jackie Lynch said her friend donates things every week.

“She buys whatever she sees on sale that she knows we can use in our pantry,” Lynch noted.

“Families are in such need around here, and we appreciate any donations we get,” Rush added.

When one customer thanked her, Jackie Lynch responded, “You’re welcome! God bless you, and thank you for coming!”

Project Manna serves people from a 100-mile radius.

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