Story by Lon Tytell
Through the generosity and support from the Warwick community, 228 food baskets were distributed on Thurs., Dec. 22. Thanks to the contributions of St. Anthony Community Hospital, the Warwick Lions Club, the Warwick Rotary, all the schools in the Warwick Valley Central School District, St. Stephen St. Edward’s School, the WVHS Interact Club, Albert Wisner Public Library, Horizon Medical Group, local churches, individuals and organizations in the Warwick community families had their choice of a turkey or ham dinner.
“The bounty of Warwick’s more fortunate citizens fills the United Methodist Church at Christmas to benefit our less fortunate neighbors. It is a joy to see. We who volunteer at the pantry and holiday food basket program are truly touched by this generosity,” Glenn P. Dickes, of the Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry.
The Food Basket Committee made up of Marge Koopman, Regina Foley, Theresa Mandracchia and Michele Carter spent several months contacting organizations and individuals to sponsor families who could benefit from the program.
“I have enjoyed being a member of the committee that has helped coordinate the distribution of holiday food baskets for the last 15 years. This has been an incredible year. By the first week of December, all the recipients of the Christmas Food Baskets were sponsored by organizations and individuals in our community. Their love and support is greatly appreciated,” said Marge Koopman, Supervisor of the Food Basket program.
Koopman was also thankful to ShopRite of Warwick, Subway of Warwick and Florida, and the Landmark Inn for their contributions, as well as to Paul Karas who provided food for the volunteers.
Christmas food basket volunteers began as early as 6 a.m. received, sorted and processed the food baskets, gifts, and toys given by community members and distributed them to appreciative families in the afternoon. The baskets were supplemented with any missing items from the Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry. Pennings Farm Market donated apples. Each recipient family had an opportunity to purchase two toys or gifts for $1 each for each child in their household. Some of the toys were obtained from the Angel Tree and the Warwick Knights of Columbus.
“The Warwick Food Pantry Basket project is a fantastic holiday event. The people who run this organization are very important to our community. There are too many individuals involved to name. One group has a small role out of all the hands and hearts that contribute to this incredible effort. Our small team picks up donations from generous students and staff at the Warwick schools. About ten to fifteen people visit the Warwick Senior housing units to deliver baskets to very thankful people,” said volunteer Mark Kurtz, who helped organize the delivery of food baskets to seniors residing at Burt Farms and Creekside Apartments in the afternoon.
Kurtz continued, “These volunteers endure snow, wind, rain and sometimes bitter cold and actually enjoy confusion and much humor. It’s hard to know who gets more from this act of charity, the recipients or the delivery team. The quantity of food and gifts collected and delivered is amazing. It fills a large Sprinter Van with shelves chocked full from floor to ceiling organized for delivery. If you have not already been part of this event as a donor or volunteer consider next year. Warwick Food Pantry is a large part of what makes Warwick…Warwick.”