Community program helps area’s needy – donations, volunteer help now being sought
By Terry Duffy
It may not seem like it lately with the mild, fall weather we’ve been experiencing, but the holiday season is really just around the corner.
With that in mind, officials of the Town of Porter Christmas Basket Program once again have started their planning with a goal of brightening the holidays of needy families in the River Region. And they are asking for your help.
“We know you have supported this program in the past, and we’re hoping you do so once more,” said Rita Rolfe, who serves as overall chair.
The Porter Christmas Baskets Program works with businesses, community organizations and residents in the River Region by soliciting donations of gifts/gift cards, cash and food. Rolfe said the Christmas 2022 campaign was able to provide holiday toys, clothing and food for 65 families, including more than 120 children.
“The Christmas Basket Program was a win-win for the recipients and the donors,” she said of the effort that saw the involvement of many from throughout the River Region. “We are a total volunteer organization.”
Rolfe said this program typically sees help come from a wide range of organizations, businesses and citizens in the River Region. The list of contributors is many, including the Youngstown Lions, Youngstown Yacht Club, First Presbyterian in Youngstown, parishioners of St. Bernard’s worship site, St. Peter’s School in Lewiston, Lew-Port Middle and the Lew-Port elementary retired teachers and staff, DiMino’s Lewiston Tops and Boy Scout Troop 829.
“We hope you will support this program again,” Rolfe said.
Janet Brooks coordinated all of the volunteer “Angels” who purchased clothing and toys on children’s wish lists, as well as all of the volunteers who wrapped all of the children’s presents and organized them into bags to be delivered to needy families. (Submitted photo)
Here’s how the River Region can help out:
•Donations of cash for gift cards and children’s presents. “We plan to use much of your donated money for food cards,” Rolfe said. She requests those interested in donating to make checks payable to the Youngstown Civic Guild and mail them to 337 Riverview Drive, Youngstown, NY, 14174.
•Donations of gifts cards from Tops, Walmart, Target or Amazon are also welcome.
“Please show the monetary amount of the gift on the card,” Rolfe said. “They can be mailed to the above address or dropped off at the Village of Youngstown office. This is a really needed gift this year.”
•Businesses and organizations are invited to place a food box at their locations for collecting food donations. The food drive runs from Monday, Nov. 20, to Wednesday, Dec. 13. For more information, contact Kate Myers at 716-745-7846.
•Another way to help out is to become an “Angel” by providing a gift/gift card for a designated child. Those who are interested can contact steering committee member Janet Brooks at 716-425-0952 or [email protected]. Those who have assisted previously are now in the process of being contacted.
•Residents are asked to contribute to the Youngstown Boy Scout 829 food collection drive that will take place the morning of Sunday, Dec. 10. “If you get a flyer from the Boy Scouts, place nonperishable food in bags on your porch or by your mailbox before 9 a.m.,” Rolfe said.
She said nonperishable food donations may also be dropped off in designated boxes found at area businesses, the Youngstown Free Library or the Village Red Brick Community Center, 240 Lockport St., by Dec. 13. Nonperishable foods can also be dropped off at the Red Brick between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. that week.
•Volunteers are sought to help prepare the collected holiday gifts and food parcels for delivery at two designated timeframes scheduled that week in the Red Brick gym. Gift preparations will occur from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 11-13, while the preparation of food packages will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. Those interested are asked to contact Brooks at 716-425-0952 or Rolfe at 817-998-2809 for time availability.
•And volunteers are needed to help deliver the gift and food baskets starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Those interested can contact steering member Colleen Johnson Summerville at 716-531-6701.
•Finally, organizers are requesting Town of Porter-area families (including those in Youngstown and Ransomville areas) who may be in need to contact them via the Youngstown Village office at 716-745-7721 by Dec. 1 and leave their phone number.
“We will return the call and register them for food or children’s gifts,” Rolfe said. “Thanks for joining us in spreading the true spirit of the season!”