United Steelworkers Hold Holiday Food & Toy Distribution - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

United Steelworkers Hold Holiday Food & Toy Distribution For Ormet Workers

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There were bags of groceries, tables loaded with toys and treats, and a jolly man in a red suit, talking to children.

With Christmas songs in the background, families were able to come in and help themselves to groceries and toys, tailored to each family's size and needs.

"We have green beans, corn, cereal, pretzels, turkey gravy, they're getting mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, all the basic staples that they need to kind of survive and to have a decent Christmas dinner," said Lori Bookwood of the USW International.

A tractor trailer arrived bringing 9,000 pounds of produce--everything from cabbage to apples to potatoes.

Steelworkers pitched in to unload the huge shipment.

It was organized by the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley and United Way of Monroe and Guernsey counties.

They acted as liaision between the steelworkers' union and the local stores.

And everyone responded generously.

"We've been so blessed with donations we've received from Riesbeck's and Kroger and I know the toys were donated by a number of different organizations," said George Smoulder, executive director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley.

Santa Claus was on hand to listen to Christmas wishes, with a little canine helper.

"This is Bacon," he said, pointing to a friendly little white dog at his side. "This is my guard dog. He protects me!"

Since the Ormet plant was shut down in October, nearly 1,000 workers and their families were plunged into hardship.

But today it was worker helping worker.

"They've brought in monetary donations," said Tom Byers, president of USW Local 5724. "They're helping out their union brothers and sisters. So there's a lot of good people out there. There's a lot of generosity right now."

They were able to load up, not just on items for Christmas dinner, but also beyond.

"Because this isn't going to end unless Governor Kasich does something," said Bookwood. "So come January, people are still going to be hurting."

But the most fervent Christmas wish was clearly felt but unspoken.

"We really have to find a way to get the Ormet plant to open again," Smoulder said.

The food and toy distribution continues Tuesday, Dec. 17.