Williamsport Red Men distribute Christmas dinners to those in need

December 16, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

WILLIAMSPORT -- Among those who arrived Wednesday morning at the Williamsport Red Men Lodge 84 to pick up boxes of Christmas dinner fixings was a 62-year-old woman who depends on the Williamsport Food Bank. Seven months a year, the costs of her prescription medication don't leave enough money for food, the woman said.

"I used to be able to donate, but not anymore," said the woman, who used to work but has been disabled for 10 years.

The Williamsport Red Men club had 125 boxes of food to distribute among clients of the Parent-Child Center, Williamsport Food Bank and the Arc of Washington County, said Charlie Boward, who was in charge of the food baskets this year.

The club purchased everything needed for a holiday meal -- turkey, milk, stuffing, gravy, whipped cream, pies, peas, corn, bread and even tin foil -- and boxed the items. The food cost $3,312.59 at a local grocery store, Boward said.


Twelve Red Men club volunteers greeted people and carried the boxes to people's vehicles.

Patty Ayers of Halfway arrived with her 2-year-old daughter, Alisa Rhoe, in her arms. Ayers works, but as a single parent sometimes uses the food bank, she said.

Mary Anna Kline is coordinator of the Williamsport Food Bank, which has served 220 more families this year than last year. This year, 1,204 families -- a total of 3,313 people -- received food from the food bank, she said.

Kline planned to deliver some of the meals to homebound senior citizens Wednesday.

The Red Men also provided gift cards for children, so they can pick out a toy, Boward said.

One father who picked up a food box took his two small children, who clutched blankets and stuffed dogs.

Chevelle Cook, her son, Joshua Hewitt, and her fiancé, Leroy Frazier III, also picked up a food box.

"Times are tough right now," she said.

Although she works at an assisted-living facility and he collects disability payments, they rely on the food bank sometimes, Cook said.

"This is a blessing. This is a big help," Frazier said.

A 42-year-old Williamsport woman who picked up a food box said she visited the food bank once this year.

"If I really need to, I will," the mother of two said.

The woman works part time but has a hard time taking care of her two children since her husband passed away, she said.

"It's hard," the woman said.

For more information

The Williamsport Food Bank is open from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays at Zion Lutheran Church in Williamsport.

Pajamas wanted

The Williamsport Red Men Lodge 84, in conjunction with CASA Inc., is collecting pajamas for boys and girls in sizes infant through XL. Anyone wishing to contribute may either purchase a pair of pajamas or make a donation. Call Mary Schurz at 301-223-2698 for more information.

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