Eastern Panhandle Parishes Bring Produce to the Hungry in Rural Communities

Courtesy Photo
Students from St. Joseph School in Martinsburg bagged 9,000 pounds of potatoes Oct. 22 which were distributed to families in need in Pennsylvania. Here, eighth-graders, kindergartners and teachers stand amid some of the potatoes ready for transport.

As others in the Eastern Panhandle hit the road to cheer on their favorite athletic teams, Father Thomas Gallagher, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg, and Father Leonard Smith, pastor of St. James the Greater Parish in Charles Town, hit the road to deliver potatoes and green beans, a Corporal Work of Mercy, to some of those less fortunate in rural areas.
The churches routinely receive produce from First Fruits Farm located in Maryland, where it is grown with the explicit purpose of giving away to food banks. This month is the first time that priests have delivered produce which demonstrates a commitment by these priests to spread the Gospel, even to the most rural areas.
Father Gallagher worked with the students from St. Joseph School in Martinsburg to load potatoes in bags for transport and distribution to Saint Mary’s, Brookville, and Kane, Pennsylvania. Each bag included a card telling the recipients that it had been packed with Love by Students at St. Joseph School. They also shared that they would pray for them at the school Mass. Father Gallagher expressed how much he enjoys having a grade school as part of his parish, noting that children bring a special life to a parish. This project provided an opportunity for him to pray and work with the students as they provided food to those in need.
As Father Gallagher was heading north, Father Smith was on the road to the southern West Virginia town of Kermit with a truck load of green beans. Sister Therese Carew, director of Christian Help in Kermit, noted: “The truck full of fresh green beans is such a huge blessing. Because of the remote location of Kermit, other major food banks are reluctant to deliver produce, so our deliveries mean that hundreds of families receive fresh food.”
Father Smith noted: “It is a seven-hour drive from Charles Town to Kermit, but it was a blessing to be able to represent St. James Parish and to offer support to the people of Mingo County. I was pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Williamson from 1995-2000 and have so many fond memories of my ministry there and of the people. Sister Therese and the good people at Christian Help and ABLE Families in Kermit are continuing to do great work there as they minister to both the material and spiritual needs of the people they serve.”