Donations, volunteers sought for annual program
By Terry Duffy
As most realize, COVID-19 has prompted some significant changes in how we plan to mark the holiday season in 2020. Many activities have been outright canceled, with others seeing curtailing or adjustments to community functions.
For the most part, the same holds true up in Youngstown, with 2020 “Christmas in the Village” celebrations on the shelf for this year. However, one familiar community happening will again be taking place – albeit somewhat modified.
“It’s that time of year again – time for our annual Youngstown/Town of Porter Community Holiday Baskets program. We will again be providing food to needy individuals and families, and gifts for needy children. We are again requesting your help to make the program a success,” program organizer and village resident Beverly Roach said.
A yearly program that typically sees participation from the Youngstown Civic Guild, Lewiston-Porter School District retired teachers, Youngstown Boy Scouts and village residents, scores of volunteers team up to gather a variety of Christmas gifts, foods, gift cards and such for distribution to the area’s needy families. However, due to COVID-19, organizers will be working through some adjustments on how the overall program will be handled though for Christmas season, with health and safety considerations prominent for all involved.
“Due to COVID-19, there will be changes this year in order to keep recipients and volunteers safe,” Roach said. For example, “In place of buying groceries for needy families, we will be using donations to buy Tops and ALDI’s gift cards. Distancing and sanitizing protocols will be in place for all activities. And, you will need to wear a mask.”
The community’s help is still needed. And here’s what residents can do to help. Roach said cash donations to purchase food gift cards and children’s gifts “are more important this year than ever.” Checks, in any amount, may be made payable to the Youngstown Civic Guild and requested to be mailed to 337 Riverview Drive, Youngstown, NY 14174.
Another way residents can help out is become an angel, Roach said: “Provide a gift or a gift card for a child.”
She asked those who would like to become an angel and “adopt” a child to make Christmas brighter contact gift chair Janet Brooks at 745-7260.
Those who would like to purchase individual gifts or gift cards can deliver them to the Youngstown Red Brick Village Center gym, 240 Lockport St. Drop-off times are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, to Thursday, Dec. 10. One may also deliver gifts to the manned table found outside the Youngstown Free Library at the Red Brick from 4-6 p.m. Dec. 7-10.
Social distancing and sanitizing protocols will be in place at the Red Brick gym, as well as outside the library. One must wear a mask to enter, Roach said.
Those interested in assisting with gift-wrapping, once all gifts are gathered, can contact Brooks to participate.
“She will schedule you, because we can only have a small number of people in the gym,” Roach said.
Another way residents can assist in this campaign is via donations of nonperishable food. Contribution boxes for will be in place at several business locations in Youngstown and Ransomville areas.
“Please put your food donations there, or they may be left in bags at the manned outside Youngstown Library pick-up table,” Roach said.
Boy Scout Troop 829 will pick up donations from residences starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, in the Village of Youngstown.
Once all gifts and other nonperishables are all organized, volunteers are needed to help with grift wrapping and preparation of foods and gifts for needy families. Roach said this activity would be going on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the week of Dec. 7-10 at the Red Brick gym.
“We will schedule a small number of people each day to help. There will be (social) distancing and sanitizing protocols in place and you must wear a mask,” Roach reminded.
Those interested in participating are asked to contact Brooks (716-745-7260) or Rita Rolfe (716-745-3562) to be scheduled.
Once all the leadoff work is done, assistance will be needed for the delivery of foods and gifts to needy residents in the community. Volunteers are asked to join the delivery blitz starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Red Brick gym.
“Everything will be packed and ready to be delivered ahead of time to decrease the person-to-person handling in the gym,” Roach said.
Those interested in joining in may contact Colleen Summerville Johnson at 716-531-6701 or John Rolfe at 716-998-6083 to be scheduled.
Roach closed by reminding those who may be in need there is help available: “If you find you need help this year, let us know.”
She said residents in need could contact Rita Rolfe or the Village of Youngstown Village Clerk’s office (716-745-7721) for more information. Names and family information are kept private.
“Thanks again for joining in and experiencing the true spirit of the season!” Roach said.