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Local Red Men tribe ready to deliver food, gifts to needy

December 17, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT -

Families throughout the Tri-State area will receive baskets of food, toys and mittens courtesy of Improved Order of Red Men Conococheague Tribe 84.

The organization will deliver the food and gifts today to 76 families in its second annual food basket delivery, said Charlie Boward, chair of the club's House Committee.

"I love to see families and children at Christmas having a decent meal," said Robert Cromis, the club's president.

Mary Anna Kline, director of the Williamsport Food Bank, said the donations are coming at the right time. Kline said most of the food the food bank generated during its yearly October fundraiser was gone.

"These would have been the extra families that would not have been picked up," Kline said. "We just didn't have any more resources left. It just totally makes my Christmas."

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Kline helped volunteers prepare the gift baskets Friday at the club.

The food bank, along with the Parent-Child Center and the Community Action Council, provided the club with a list of families in need of food during the holidays, said Mac McKendrick, the club's chair of donations.

The number of families served has more than doubled since the club started the deliveries last year, McKendrick said. The club delivered food and gifts to 25 families last year, Boward said.

Food Lion and Kmart helped provide the food and gifts. Unlimited Rentals provided the delivery van, and PSI Packaging provided the boxes, Boward said.

So far, the club has raised around $98,000 for area nonprofits, McKendrick said.

"We try to do this kind of thing year-round," McKendrick said. "We want every child to have something on Christmas."

Boward said the club decided to do the gift baskets after a representative from the food bank inquired about it.

Kline said she was grateful to the club's donation. She was unable to hold back her tears when Cromis presented her with a $1,000 check.

"Since Hurricane Katrina, local money has been going south, but I've been telling people you can't forget about your own," Kline said.

The food bank took another hit when GST AutoLeather closed earlier this year. GST ended a round of massive layoffs this fall, ending more than a century of continuous production for hundreds of employees.

Kline said the food bank had a long-standing agreement with the company to provide food for laid-off employees. None of the families receiving baskets from the club were former employees of GST, Kline said.

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