Volunteers have been busy collecting, delivering, sorting, packing and handing out Thanksgiving dinners to area residents who need a little helping hand this Thanksgiving.
The 29th annual Feed A Friend project, coordinated and sponsored by WNEP, “calls upon the communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania to collect and distribute food” for local families in need every Thanksgiving. WNEP coordinates with area agencies like food banks, soup kitchens, schools and churches, along with the Commission on Economic Opportunity, to coordinate food and monetary donations for those less fortunate this holiday season.
One of the unique things about Feed A Friend is that all donations to the Feed A Friend program remain in the county in which it is collected -and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church that handles the Feed A Friend campaign for the Mountaintop Area.
St. Paul’s parishioner, Angie Burke has been coordinating the project since she responded to a request in the church bulletin a decade ago.
Angie coordinates numerous volunteers, as well as the collection points located all over Mountaintop –at local businesses and organizations like Carone’s, the Kirby Library, Push Fitness, Gatorade and Little Big Steps daycare. St. Jude Church and School also organize a drive as well for the project.
Angie stresses that volunteers are always needed and that the Boy Scouts are a huge help to the project; heading out into the community two weeks prior to pass out flyers, and then bringing all donations to the church where the St. Paul’s Youth Group and local Girl Scout troops sort the food for the individual bags. Angie calls it “organized chaos” with a laugh, and says it is an important part in teaching young people community engagement.
“There are between 100 and 120 people who show up and 90% of those volunteers are under the age of 14,” says Angie. “This project gives them a taste of community service.”
The Thanksgiving dinner that local Feed A Friend donations provide goes to families from the Mountaintop Area that use the St. Paul’s Food Bank or to those who, while they may not necessarily need the food bank on a regular basis, are still unable to provide their family with a complete Thanksgiving dinner. People sign up through Angie or through the Food Bank, and some are connected through a friend or community member anonymously.
According to Angie, every year the Mountaintop Feed A Friend program provides a full dinner for nearly 100 Mountaintop families. She adds that, when the volunteers carry the groceries to the cars of those who have signed up, the response is genuinely appreciative, even though many are embarrassed or disappointed by the fact that
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