Kamp for Kids helps stock local food shelf

FAIRMONT – Kamp for Kids remains an important annual event for those who donate, those who volunteer, and those who benefit from the holiday effort to stock the food shelf and gather toys for the Salvation Army in Fairmont.

“We can’t even remember how long it’s been,” said Kelly Sloenker, who was with her daughter Alyssa weighing carts of donated items Saturday morning at the Salvation Army. “The first time we did it, my son was doing community service for St. John Vianney. … We really liked this, so we came back, and now we just do it. We like to help by giving what we can.”

Families, community service clubs, businesses and Scout troupes all stepped up to help gather red bags filled with non-perishable food items. The bags were distributed throughout the county by the Sentinel and Photo Press.

For Melanie Muller, volunteering this year was bittersweet after losing her mother, Linda Hoppe.

“This was her tradition,” Muller said, as she and Hoppe’s grandchildren worked on sorting donated items as they were unbagged.

Other volunteers were bustling back and forth from where the bags were brought in, the sorting area and the food shelf room.

“Our food shelf is looking pretty full right now,” said Ken Wolfgram. “But in three months, all of this will disappear. The usage of our food shelf has been up by 30 to 40 percent.”

The Salvation Army was also pleased with the amounts of food brought in from businesses and school food drives.

“We had about 500 pounds of food that was brought in yesterday,” Wolfgram said. “The numbers we’re looking at right now is strictly red bag items from today.”

The donations were about average, according to long-time volunteers familiar with Kamp for Kids.

“If this was it, I would say we were down,” said veteran volunteer Sloenker, during a lull in the action. “But I know we still have the outer areas coming in.”

Others were first-time volunteers for the event.

“I did this a few years ago,” said Kate Hawkins, who brought along foreign-exchange student Phillip Loeber, who is spending the year with her family. “But things are different in Denmark.”

Loeber said there are day shelters in Denmark, but he was unaware of any organizations that serve food like our area pantries.

For anyone who may have missed the red bag donation Saturday, the Salvation Army is willing to still accept donations. As the motto states: “Need knows no season.”

“We are always accepting donations,” Wolfgram said.