Helping those in Need: The Thanksgiving Food Drive
By: Danielle Koleniak
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” -Matthew 25:35-40DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
At 8:30am Social Justice Volunteers lined up their cars and began loading what would be the first drop-off round of donations to the storage unit for the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. The team’s unloading assembly line and arranging of canned green beans to cereal boxes would put a grocery store to shame. Smiles, laughs and teasing of George Szymanski’s organizational skills all took place.
The group of about seven volunteers was there for one purpose—answering God’s call to serve those in need. Dolores Marcheski-Young is one of them. After persuading her for approximately 1.5 hours as we organized pasta and peanut butter, she agreed to share her love about serving in the Social Justice Ministry. She spoke specifically about the need this year. The goal is to collect enough food to feed 200 hundred families who live in the poorest communities in Lee County. They also need the hands to make it happen.
On Monday, November 17 at 8:30am, volunteers will make their final round of loading, unloading and organizing goods. When you read this article, think about how truly blessed you are and being the hands behind the mission.
Danielle Koleniak: Talk to me a little bit about what the Social Justice Ministry is doing?
Dolores Marcheski Young: I became involved with the Social Justice Ministry about four years ago. The Thanksgiving Food Drive was taking place even then.
It really has grown exponentially in the past two to three years. The parishioners here have been extremely generous. They fill grocery bags with cans and boxes of non-perishables and drop it off in the Narthex. From there, a group of volunteers pick up the bags, bring them to a nearby storage facility and then organize the goods to be prepared in bags and sent off for families in the community. Donors also give money and gift cards to purchase turkeys. Our mission is to provide a complete Thanksgiving meal for 200 families this year.
DK: Where do the donations go?
DMY: Recently the Social Justice Ministry has taken a big role in helping the Hispanic community and homeless through St. Martin De Porres Outreach Community Ministry. Food will also go to families in need within our parish.
DK: Why is it important to get involved in this initiative?
DMY: It’s about paying it forward.
DK: Talk about what it’s like when you see the final product of the mission take place— placing the full grocery bags and turkey into the hands of the needy families.
DMY: It’s eye opening to see the number of women with their young children standing in line and waiting while their husbands may have been away working. Not one person ever hesitates to say ‘thank you.’ The experience is also very heartwarming. We sometimes forget how blessed we are in this country. I think we need to remember that. I think this season brings to mind what we have and what the need is. Our goal this year is to feed 200 families through this food drive. We can’t do that without the help of our generous parishioners at St. John XXIII.
DK: What can parishioners do to help the cause?
DMY: We are collecting non-perishable food items through November 16 (that’s today). They can drop off the items in the parish narthex.
We also need helping hands on Monday, November 17th at 8:30am (After 8:00am Mass).
1) Loading cars to drop bags off at storage facility
2) Organizing the food at storage unit
Even if volunteers can only give a little time, that’s ok. We really need the help.For more information: Contact Dolores at Mikericnik@comcast.net or Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org