’Tis the season for food donations

Cash, food needed until holiday giving

news@enquirerherald.comNovember 12, 2012 

— In the weeks leading up to the launch of the holiday giving season, York’s PATH has experienced a drop-off in needed donations of cash and nonperishable food to help the poor.

“We have a lot of empty space in our warehouse, and that’s because we’ve seen a drop-off in October,” said Cheri Curtin, executive director of the nonprofit People Attempting to Help, or PATH, which serves needy families in the York school district. “I don’t know if people are waiting to donate or what.”

Curtin said the agency is in need of cash donations; nonperishable food, especially all type of canned meats, such as ham, tuna and chicken; canned stews, such as beef stew; bags of dried beans; and essential supplies like toiletries, diapers and detergents.

“Our homeless population, they really love those cans of meat with the flip top, because most of them don’t have a can opener,” she said. “And those large cans of beef stew, they’re a meal staple for a lot of our families, because it’s like a meal in a can.”

Nonprofit agencies often run low on supplies in the weeks leading up to December, she said, when holiday donations begin, and during the summer. But Curtin said the agency has been fully funded for most of the year, and cash and supplies didn’t start to run out until October.

“We didn’t get hard pressed for food donations until last month,” she said.

Curtin said cash donations are needed to provide assistance with basic living expenses. The agency also is collecting clean new or used regular blankets and new electric blankets.

Electric blankets, available for about $30 at Walmart, should be new to ensure they are safe, she said. They are used by people who live in homes that have power, but not heat, she said.

The donated blankets will be distributed to PATH patrons at no charge, she said.

In the Clover and Lake Wylie area, Clover Area Assistance Center is collecting specific foods for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, said Karen van Vierssen, executive director.

CAAC is in need of turkeys, hams, stuffing, gravy mix, jello, pie crust and canned yams, potatoes, cranberries, pie filling, and fruit. Disposable roasting pans are also requested.

For normal food distribution, she said, the agency also in need of protein-rich foods. She said the variety of foods the agency purchases from Second Harvest Food Bank is diminished.

“Beans and canned beans and canned chili with meat,” she said. “That really helps us get through the first part of this season.”

The agency recently announced plans to discontinue its Santa’s Closet toy collection, she said, because many other agencies are providing that service at the holidays.

Instead, she said CAAC will concentrate on its main task of fulfilling basic needs like food and emergency assistance. “We just decided that rather than trying to be all things to all people, we’re going to be one thing — and that’s meeting basic needs,” van Vierssen said.

Curtin said PATH has been better able to meet the need of its clients this year than in some recent years. It received a $35,000 grant from Good Folks of York County she said, and also tightened up its qualification processes to target the most needy people.

Van Vierssen said CAAC saw a decline in requests for assistance early this year, but now they’re starting to see numbers rise again.

“We’re seeing a lot more people who are moving to the area from somewhere else, but immediately having a need when they move here,” she said. “What that says to us is, people have tried someplace else and it didn’t work, and right when they move in here, they already have a need.”

Want to help?

These local agencies serve people in western York County. They accept food and cash donations to help the needy.

PATH, People Attempting to Help, 204 Raille St., P.O. Box 52, York, 803-684-3992

Clover Area Assistance Center, 1130 S.C. 55 E., Clover, 803-222-4837

Tender Hearts Community Outreach, 511 Kings Mountain St., York, 803-684-3131

God’s Kitchen, 708 Old N. Main St., Clover. 803-222-0711.

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