Volunteer keeps on leading the giving life

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 4, 2000

COAL GROVE – Wilma Wineka smiled, thinking of the 15 years she helped stuff meals into brown paper bags.

Monday, September 04, 2000

COAL GROVE – Wilma Wineka smiled, thinking of the 15 years she helped stuff meals into brown paper bags.

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"When they’d get ready to leave, they would say, ‘Thank you, we’re glad to get this,’" she said.

The meals came in plainly marked cans of meats, fruits or vegetables, bags of rice and flour, frozen chicken – a little bit of everything.

"We would open the cartons and then bag it up," said Mrs. Wineka, volunteer commodities director in the village. "We handed out just about anything you would want to put on your table."

Things will be different now.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that oversees the surplus food distributions, is moving away from the mass pick-up centers. Food pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies will now distribute commodities, a move designed to help more people who find themselves in emergency situations.

Mrs. Wineka, now 84, and her six other volunteer helpers will hand out food at the Jae Roush Community Center for probably the last time this month.

"It’s been rewarding to know I’m handing out something to the village, to people who I know they need it," she said. "I’ll miss seeing those faces, I know. I told them the last time that there would only be one more and I could see their faces fall."

Mrs. Wineka began her commodity career after Mayor Tom McKnight asked if she would take over distribution inside the village.

The village received enough commodity food for about 480 people then, she said. It has dwindled to where only 50 to 80 people receive the surplus.

"And we have quite a few people in the Village of Coal Grove that do need it," she added.

Those people and many others think Mrs. Wineka is an example because she gives to her community through the commodity program, church and other groups, her daughter Vicki Frecka said.

Mrs. Frecka even followed her mother into helping with the commodity program.

"We always get involved."

Other volunteers also help out, and do just as much, Mrs. Wineka said. They are Mrs. Frecka, Lillian Slaughter, Gretchen Bruce, Ruth Butler, Steve Jacobson and Shannon Bruce, she said.

Mrs. Wineka wants to continue volunteering with the Coal Grove Betterment Club, the AARP and other groups, while keeping up her activities with Zoar Baptist Church where she’s been a member for 68 years.

"When I started in the commodities, I was retired," Mrs. Wineka said. "I just didn’t want to give up and sit at home all the time."

And, she still doesn’t want to do that, she said.

So, if you don’t see her at Betterment Club meetings she will be working as the church clerk, something she’s done for 25 years, singing soprano in the choir or right around the corner – volunteering.

"I enjoy working with people and for people I wouldn’t trade places with anyone."