PITTSTON — Two groups from St. John the Evangelist Parish are working to ensure those in need are kept well-fed and warm this winter.
The Greater Pittston Food Pantry and the Knitting Ministry will hold their annual Christmas Turkey, Trimming and Winter Coat Giveaway at the old Seton Catholic High School building on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Coordinator for the food pantry, Peggy Burke, said the event is for people who are already served by the food pantry.
“It’s for local low income families that have been preregistered and been receiving food from the food pantry,” she said. “This is a big special event because a lot of organizations provide turkeys for Thanksgiving, but we provide them for Christmas.”
On top of turkey, patrons will receive milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.
The food is donated by local organizations as well as Commission on Economic Opportunity, or CEO, which is dedicated to providing foods to low income families.
Burke said there will be anywhere from 40 to 50 volunteers packaging the food and helping families carry it to their cars. Food that is not donated will be saved to use for weekly food pantry meals.
While the food portion of the event is important, Burke stressed the need for gently used winter coats.
“Right now we have about 300 coats and we’d like to get anywhere between 500 and 600,” she said. “It’s not for 400 individuals, we’re providing for 400 families. In addition to the coats we are also looking for gently used, hats, scarves, gloves, and blankets.”
Burke mentioned the reason they are only collecting adult coats is due to kids’ coats and clothes being collected all year round for the Kids’ Clothes Closet, which will also be open on the night of the event.
All winter items can be donated to St. John the Evangelist Parish until Monday, Dec. 14 and those that are not given away on Dec. 16 will be donated to the Christian Missionary Alliance in West Pittston.
The Christmas Turkey, Trimming and Winter Coat Giveaway is now in its seventh year. Burke said the idea for it came when people asked about receiving Christmas dinners.
“CEO was already covering Thanksgiving for people and people would ask if we had any special foods for Christmas,” Burke said. “We started in October of 2008, and in November CEO was giving turkeys and I realized these people would not get anything for Christmas and decided we would take on a big turkey project. I decided since I’m a knitter and I teach knitting for the Knitting Ministry I thought we would also collect hats and scarves as well.”
Burke said the event can take a toll her and the volunteers, but the excitement she gets out of it is worth it.
“It’s very hectic, but it’s on those situations where you do a project like this there is exhilaration in the air,” Burke said. “The people are so happy and so excited to get coats. Most winter coats are not that warm and we’ve had people come in with their coats duct taped together. “
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher