Annual program assists needy families in area
By Terry Duffy
Giving and compassion for those in need around us is a year-round concern, but particularly so during the holiday season.
We see it everywhere – from the Salvation Army fundraising campaign of kettles in countless malls and supermarkets, to the many efforts in Buffalo-Niagara such as “Operation Rock Out Hunger,” the St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy food distributions on the east side, M&T Bank’s “Gift of Warmth,” the Neighbor’s Foundation on Grand Island, and “Tidings of Joy” in Niagara Falls. Then there’s the endless work of local agencies in Niagara’s River Region, such as Care-n-Share, Deposits For Food and Heart, Love & Soul, plus service organizations such as Lewiston Kiwanis, the Lewiston and Youngstown Lions clubs, and area churches.
Yes, the desire to assist the needy during the holidays seems to grow all the more. In the Village of Youngstown, it’s become an annual community endeavor.
“Do you believe it’s almost Christmas? Here we go again! It’s time for our 2019 Community Christmas Baskets Program,” said village resident Rita Rolfe of the Youngstown Civic Guild.
The Youngstown Civic Guild is a local organization that, for nearly 40 years, has been dedicated to helping out in the community. It announced this week that, once again, it will coordinate a massive food and children’s gift distribution. The effort is intended to make the holiday season all that brighter for scores of needy families in Youngstown and Porter.
“Thanks to your generosity throughout the many years, we have delivered Christmas food boxes and children’s gifts at Christmastime to families in Youngstown and the Town of Porter,” Rolfe said. “As we do every year, we’re requesting your help producing the Christmas baskets for 50-plus deserving families in our community.”
Residents are asked to assist the Civic Guild with monetary donations to enable its purchase of foods and children’s gifts for needy families. Checks payable to the Youngstown Civic Guild will make this happen. Residents are asked to mail their donations to John Rolfe, who serves as treasurer, at 337 Riverview Drive, Youngstown, NY, 14174.
Starting Sunday and continuing to Wednesday, Dec. 18, the River Region community is welcomed – and encouraged – to assist the Civic Guild even more, with donations of nonperishable foods and canned goods intended to help the food box drive.
Rolfe said more than a dozen area businesses have agreed to serve as drop-off sites for this collection effort. Included in Youngstown are: Anchor Spirits, A&M Automotive, Everything Youngstown, the Village Diner, the Ontario House (Jug), Victoria’s Family Hair Care, Main Street Pizzeria, the Youngstown Yacht Club, the Youngstown Free Library, The Youngstown Galley and the Youngstown Rite Aid.
In Porter, donation sites include Bandana’s Bar & Grill and Rays Tavern, both out on Lake Road. There’s also Patti’s Cut Above and Stevenson’s Hardware in Ransomville.
In addition, Rolfe said the Boy Scouts have volunteered to assist with house-to-house pickups throughout the Youngstown and Porter areas in northern Niagara.
“Boy Scout Troop 829 will deliver flyers to many houses in Youngstown. If you want to donate, gather nonperishables and put them in bags near your mailbox or on your porch on Sunday, Dec. 15. The Boy Scouts will collect them Sunday morning,” she said.
“Last year was the first year we did this. Everybody has been very willing to pitch in,” Civic Guild committee member Bev Roach said of the Boy Scout collections.
Throughout this communitywide giving campaign, which concludes on Christmas Eve, Civic Guild organizers said numerous individuals, organizations and groups – more than 80 in total – are expected to participate. That includes Boy Scout Troop 829; Lew-Port Junior Girl Scout Troop 7007, whose members last year baked 30-dozen cookies to donate to the Civic Guild; Lewiston-Porter teachers and students; retired Lew-Port elementary teachers; members of the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown and its Angel Tree; members of Youngstown Coast Guard Station Niagara; the Anthony DiMino Family of DiMino’s Lewiston Tops; the Village of Youngstown; Tom Tower’s Farm Market; the Youngstown Lions and Youngstown Garden Club; Youngstown Free Library; and the congregations of St. John’s Episcopal Church and St. John’s Evangelical churches.
“Many local businesses not only donated money, but also had a box in their establishments for nonperishable food donations. There were many people who donated food, and an army of well over 80 volunteers who donated their time, many with strong backs and all with warm hearts, helping to make the holiday happier for many local families,” Roach said.
Once the food collections and gift purchases are complete, Civic Guild organizers and village volunteers will work from Dec. 16-19 on their “Be an Angel” project of wrapping and sorting gifts for children in the gym. Volunteer are asked to stop by the Red Bick Village Center gym from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily to wrap and sort children’s gifts.
“We do spend some time on this,” Roach said. “We try to get things that kids like.”
Those interested in donating gifts are asked to contact Peggy Hansen at 745-7285.
On Friday, Dec. 20, work then moves to the actual sorting of foods and packing of the food baskets and boxes. Those interested in helping out are asked to stop by the Red Brick gym at 5 p.m.
The big day for deliveries comes Sunday, Dec. 21. That is when volunteers will assemble at 9 a.m. inside the Red Brick gym to begin the deliveries of boxes and gifts to more than 40 homes of needy families in the River Region.
“This is lots of fun and hard work. Trucks, vans and weight lifters are especially welcome. Bring dollies, wagons, vans and young strong backs. We need your help to do this!” Rolfe said, laughing.
She noted that, following the deliveries, all volunteers are invited to the Village Diner “to celebrate a great ending to a challenging and rewarding project!”
At this writing, the Civic Guild is still taking names of needy individuals and area families for its 2019 Community Christmas Baskets Program. Those who may know of a recipient are asked to call Hansen at 745-7285.