Jefferson Award Winners: Bob & Betty Mitchell

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LEWIS COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - The Jefferson Award, presented by Antero Resources, highlights individuals who spent countless hours dedicating their time to the community and others.

This month two people were honored, Bob and Betty Mitchell, who have dedicated their retirement to feeding the hungry in their community.

For many folks, retirement means relaxing on beaches, catching up on reading, or spending time on the golf course.

"For me, that wasn't what retirement was all about," Bob said.

However, to Bob and Betty, their golden years were the perfect opportunity to make positive changes in their community.

"It didn't take long for me to find out, that there was so much work out there that needed done," Bob said.

The couple have spent most of their lives in their small town of Roanoke and have been members of their tiny, country church since they were small.

"I was pastor of the church hear for 8 years and I saw the need in the community for extra food," said Bob.

So in 2010, Bob and Betty began the journey to opening a food pantry.

"I applied for the license in 2010 and in March 2011 was the first day we gave out food, and we've been doing it ever since."

"We give it out on the third Wednesday of every month. People come from three counties to get the food."

Currently, they are reaching over fifty households.

One of unique thing about their food pantry is that the couple personally delivers meals to people who are unable to get them on their own.

"There are several elderly in our community who can't come pick up food because they don't have drivers licenses. I think right now, we're delivering 15 food boxes every month."

The couples' church purchases food for the pantry out of pocket, but also relies on donations from local grocery stores, as well as their monthly allotment of USDA commodities. Volunteers from the church and other groups come each month to help pack food boxes.

In addition to their work at the pantry, Betty drives neighbors to doctors appointments and Bob goes on a yearly mission trip to Haiti.

"I grew up needing help and a lot of people have helped me over the years when I was young," Betty explained.

She continued, "I've just always had a soft spot in my heart to help people."

While they may not be spending their retirement relaxing, the couple says they wouldn't have it any other way.

"People are so appreciative and tell us how much the food really helps them," Bob said.

Betty added, "God has put that in our heart to be a help to people."