Story by Lon Tytell
For over 20 years, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets have been distributed to families in the Town of Warwick at the Warwick United Methodist Church, located at 135 Forester Ave. in Warwick. The committee of volunteers who coordinate this effort are Marge Koopman, Regina Foley, Theresa Mandracchia and Michele Carter. They spend several months contacting organizations to sponsor families, getting the word out to the community and coordinating this massive effort, which this year distributed 220 baskets.
Basket distribution day was held on Tues., Nov. 22. Each family had the choice of a turkey or ham dinner with all the fixings. Baskets were provided by all of the schools in the Warwick Valley Central School District, the Interact Club, St. Stephens School, Albert Wisner Public Library, Horizon Medical Group, local churches, individuals and organizations in the Warwick community.
Volunteers began arriving at 6 a.m. at the church to help unload cars and trucks delivering prepared food baskets. Other volunteers spent hours carefully checking each basket and supplementing them with any additional items needed from the Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry. Ochs Orchard donated apples for each family.
In the afternoon, complete baskets were loaded into the cars of recipients. Forty-two senior citizens living at Burt Farms and Creekside Apartments had their baskets delivered in the afternoon by yet more volunteers.
Marge Koopman, the supervisor of the Food Basket Program expressed her appreciation to the many businesses which provided breakfast and lunch for the volunteers including: Warwick ShopRite, Noble Pies, Subway of Warwick and Florida, Larry’s Deli, the Bellvale Market and Fetch Bar and Grill.
Glenn P. Dickes, the director of the Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry said, “We are grateful for the generosity of the community supporting the holiday basket program year after year. That generosity provides a substantial holiday meal and often additional groceries for families who otherwise would go without. Warwick once again stepped up to the plate.”
The Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry serves about 200 families every month, thanks in large part to the generosity of the Warwick community. Pantry recipients are allowed to come once a month. The Pantry is open Monday and Thursday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monetary donations allows the Pantry to buy food from the Regional Food Bank and local grocery stores, when needed. The pantry is always in need of non-perishable foods of all types, especially fruits, vegetables and soups. Toiletries of all kinds are also accepted.
For more information, to make a donation or to become involved, visit www.warwickpantry.org/.