KEYSER - Thanks to the efforts of some volunteers at Trinity United Methodist Church in Piedmont, children who attend the Tri-Towns After School Program are sent home with two and sometimes three grocery bags full of food for their families every Christmas and Easter break.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Thanks to the efforts of some volunteers at Trinity United Methodist Church in Piedmont, children who attend the Tri-Towns After School Program are sent home with two and sometimes three grocery bags full of food for their families every Christmas and Easter break.
To some of the children, it may mean the difference in whether they have good nutritious meals when they’re off school for a week or whether they might not have enough to eat.
“We have about 52 children this year,” said Marybeth Chien, pastor of Trinity Church. “From the time that they get off the bus till about 5:30 p.m., they get help with homework and they get a free meal. When they’re off school for a week, we give them each two bags of groceries.”
According to Chien, the students range in age from pre-school to high school, and when they arrive they gather in small groups with each group being led by a grandparent volunteer.
Betty Ann Aronhalt is the director of the program, which runs Monday through Thursday.
Volunteer Teri Lea Price noted that each child receives at least two bags - sometimes three if the donations are available - and items include cereal, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and sauce, fruit and other healthy snacks.
“The parents come in and pick them up; it’s too much for the children to carry,” she said. “But then that provides another way for them to connect with their parents.”
The program started in the early 1990s, when “community leaders and the United Methodist Women looked around and saw that (Piedmont) no longer had any schools, but we have kids,” Price said.
In addition to the regular After School Program, the church also houses a summer program in which the children are provided a meal. That runs Monday through Friday.
“It’s very much a necessary program in this area,” Price said.
Funding for the program comes in part from County United Way and money raised through the church’s Bargain Basement In addition, Keyser Walmart assists with the shopping for the groceries.