The holidays can be a joyous time. But for many, they’re a time of extra financial stress. In families with children that strain is often worse, with parents working to grant their kids’ holiday wishes, and stretch their budgets to replace the breakfasts and lunches the children normally get when school is in session.
(Board members Christine Cusick and Beth McIntyre sort food items)
Volunteers with North Hills Cares, a non-profit located in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, had an idea. They decided to use the day-after-Christmas Boxing Day holiday (celebrated in Great Britain and other countries) as an opportunity to “box” up fresh food for families who could use a little extra help this time of year. I serve on NHC’s board so I was there to volunteer:
Nearly two dozen families benefitted from the food distribution. Two are headed by working single moms. Another was a grandmother raising five grandchildren all under the age of 10. All were grateful for the help. “This will really make a difference,” said one as she accepted a box (and a bag) with a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, cheese, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, even pasta and sauce, and a jar each of jelly and peanut butter.
Lynn Sciulli, president of the North Hills Cares board of directors, helped organize the event. Unlike a food pantry which typically offers only shelf-stable items, “this is a unique opportunity for us to send home dairy and produce,” explained Lynn. Generous donors helped cover the cost, with the local Giant Eagle grocery store donating the fresh produce.
(Board members Christine Cusick and Tony Sciulli double check the boxes and bags)
One in seven people in the U.S. are what’s called “food insecure” meaning that they don’t have a reliable source of nutritious, affordable food. In parts of the areas served by North Hills Cares, as many as one in four children is food insecure, even though the area is considered middle class. “People don’t understand that there’s hunger in our community,” said Sciulli. “So we have to make sure that we’re taking care of (our neighbors) at this time too.”
If you’d like to help North Hills Cares continue to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve, click here for a link to their website to donate or sign up to volunteer if you live in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
It doesn’t take much to help a hungry neighbor. If you know of someone who needs extra food, box up some staples like we did, and if you’re afraid they’d be embarassed to accept it from you, then leave it on the doorstep. If you don’t know of anyone in need, find a local community group or food pantry and ask. You’ll make a difference, and help us to #StartSomethingGood!