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The fruits (and vegetables) of labor

Clare King, of Proctorville, with the Community Mission Outreach helps bag up green beans. Other produce included peppers, cabbage, onions, squash and potatoes. THE TRIBUNE/JESSICA ST. JAMES

Disability, layoffs, illnesses. Whatever the reason, people often need a helping hand. Some need help for an extended period of time, while others might only need some assistance getting through a rough patch. Whatever the reason, the number of those needing help is sizeable.

The Community Mission Outreach was handing out fresh produce to as many as 550 families in need Thursday at the Chesapeake Community Center. The start time was listed as 10 a.m., but Bill Booth, an assistant director of the Community Mission Outreach, said the cars were lined up at 7 a.m.

This is the third time Community Mission Outreach has put this together. About 30 volunteers helped to distribute potatoes, cabbage, apples, green beans, peppers, onions, squash, carrots and zucchini to families who met the income guidelines. The food came from Second Harvest Food Bank in Logan, Ohio, and farmers along with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“It’s excess produce that would be thrown away,” said Don Moore, Community Mission Outreach trustee chairman.

Some recipients of the produce prolong the benefits of it. Wayne Crank, 54, of South Point, received some produce last year and canned the potatoes.

“It’s important, really, as bad as the economy is,” Crank said. “It’s nice of them to do that. It really helps.”

Lisa Jackson, 47, of Chesapeake, first received help from the Community Mission Outreach a couple of years ago. She supports four people in her house and said it’s hard to keep enough food in the house.

“I’ve got two growing kids, and they love to eat,” Jackson said.

Sherri Dennison, 47, of Proctorville, first needed help about three years ago, and while her husband raises a garden, there are still times when food is hard to come by.

“I don’t use it monthly, just when I need it,” Dennison said.

Booth is thankful for all of the volunteers that serve at the Community Mission Outreach.

“A lot of the time it’s the same people who keep volunteering,” Booth said. “They’re dedicated.”

Booth said he benefits from his work there as much as the people seeking help there.

“It’s rewarding to me,” Booth said. “If you have peace of mind, you’re well ahead of everybody else.”

Booth joked that sometimes his wife gets a little aggravated for him doing so much, he loves what he does and feels it’s necessary.

Moore agreed.

“It’s nice to be able to help people,” Moore said.

“With the economy today, the need is out there,” Booth said.