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People give back to Martha's Vineyard

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

Martha's Vineyard has been serving meals to Paducah's homebound about 24 years. The nonprofit recently found itself in need when several appliances broke down at once, but founder Martha Bell said members of the community have been stepping forward to help.

Earlier this summer, Martha's Vineyard's walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer and ice maker quit working in the same weekend. The group lost all the food stored in the cooler and the freezer and had to make costly repairs to the three appliances. Bell said the cooler and ice maker are both working, and the last of the three to be fixed - the freezer - was repaired Monday.

The air conditioning unit in the building's kitchen also broke down that weekend, Bell said, and the charity is currently having that repaired.

"It's coming along pretty good," Bell said of the recovery from those setbacks. "We're still kind of behind, but people have been giving what they can. And we're blessed. We're just really blessed with what we're getting."

Bell said local grocery stores have sent Martha's Vineyard produce and eggs, and local farmers have given fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, peaches, squash, okra, potatoes, onions, apples and corn on the cob.

"All the veggies and fruits that are coming in now, we've really been blessed with being able to send those to our people," Bell said. "When you think about it, the people that we feed are never going to make it to the farmers market or to a farm. And they're just so in awe when you can take them three or four peaches or three or four apples."

On Tuesday, Bell added, one donor sent Martha's Vineyard a case of ground beef.

"We had not one piece of ground beef in our kitchen, and that was wonderful."

Bell said on Tuesday Martha's Vineyard was able to send each person it serves fresh corn on the cob - that volunteers shuck and seal in plastic bags, ready to be cooked - cantaloupe and watermelon, as well as a gallon of milk and a half gallon of orange juice given by H.T. Hackney. Bell said the grocery supplier also recently sent the organization several other food staples.

"We're just blessed to be able to bless them," Bell said of meal recipients. "I guess you could say were passing the blessings on, when you stop and think about it."

And folks in Paducah have been giving money as well.

"I had some ladies that have Sunday school classes together, they've been donating like $100 toward helping us with whatever we need," Bell said.

She said churches, individuals, and businesses around Paducah have also given money, and other groups have planned fundraisers to help Martha's Vineyard in August.

For example, Bell found out Monday the West Kentucky Rockin' Rollers, a roller derby team in Paducah, is holding a bout that will benefit Martha's Vineyard on Aug. 16. The contest will be held at Kingsway Skateland, 3430 Wayne Sullivan Drive.

"So people are just coming together to help us, and that's what it's all about: Everybody jumping in and being a good neighbor," Bell said.

While donations are helping to keep the doors open at Martha's Vineyard, Bell said the nonprofit still needs additional volunteers, especially drivers to help deliver and to pick up food. It will continue to need donations in the future as well.

"Our big hope is that we could get different groups, churches and organizations that would like to, every month, fund a meal and help us with the utilities for that month. And that would be one way that we could get a lot of worry off of us," Bell said.

Bell said organizing giving that way would help Martha's Vineyard plan meals for the people it serves, so the volunteers aren't waiting for something to come in or making due with what they have.

"Whatever we get, we're just thankful we have it," Bell said. "I know God's going to see that we always have something here for our people. It might not be a big planned meal in advance, but it will be a meal."

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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