"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." -- AesopCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Soup kitchens or breadlines became a way of life for many during the Great Depression years, though the concept dates back hundreds of years.Churches and charities in every town fed millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the economic downswing.Manna Meal targeted a different population when founded in 1978 -- Charleston's street people. But, then as now, Manna Meal set itself apart from religious-based soup kitchens, said Executive Director Jean Simpson: It asked no questions of anyone who walked in the door.Homeless people still come to eat, Simpson said, but many folks at Manna Meal aren't homeless."Now we're helping low-income service workers -- people who make the beds in hospitals, check-out clerks at retail stores. People who make less than $10 an hour are under the poverty level.
"These people we serve now are working sometimes two jobs to keep a roof over their heads. We encourage anyone to come here ... so they can save money for housing."We're feeding about 380 people a day, seven days a week," Simpson said. "We're the only social service agency in town that's open every day."Please consider helping Manna Meal by donating to the Gazette Charities Christmas Fund.When you make a donation to the Gazette Charities Christmas Fund, every penny goes to the agencies and people who need help.The Gazette covers the administrative costs of the fund. All donations to Gazette Charities are tax-deductible.To donate online, go to wvgazette.com and click on the Gazette Charities Christmas Fund logo.Reach Jim Balow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5102.