by Larry Austin
The Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island is assisting a record 68 families in temporary distress this holiday season.
Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Mary Star of the Sea Council No. 4752 hall, members of the Neighbors Foundation and volunteers began the task of sorting hundreds of pounds of donations from generous Islanders bound for Islanders in need of a helping hand.
Neighbors Foundation President Hank Kammerer said the volume of donations is "about the same" as in years past. "Since we have more families, we will give out more Tops gift cards to supplement the canned and nonperishable foods that we're getting."
He noted that there are more than 130 children in the distressed families the foundation is assisting this holiday season.
The increase in the number of families could be from "better awareness of the Neighbors Foundation, but some of that is the economy," Kammerer said, noting the economy has increased the number of unemployed and underemployed.
Cheryl Chamberlain said 26 students, three from Connor Middle School and 23 from Grand Island High School, volunteered with the sorting and packaging of donated goods.
"I think it's really cool," GIHS senior Kevin Freedman said of the labor of sorting and delivering donations. "It's a great thing that we do. I really wanted to do it last year because I know it's giving back to families right here on the Island."
Grand Island is an affluent community, but not without people in hardship.
"There's people -- just like in any community, even wealthy communities -- that are in need and are going through rough times just like on the Island," Freedman said.