Efforts of Many Aid in Food Distribution
By Rick Hiduk
The food was collected and donated by Scouts, elementary school children and runners. Cargill Meat Solutions and the Wyalusing Lions and Lioness Clubs also made sizeable contributions. Then, over the course of four days, members of the Wyalusing Valley High School (WVHS) Leo Club sorted and packed the offerings and distributed more than 120 boxes of food to 105 families and senior citizens in need and at least another 20 to families who were severely impacted by September flooding.
“It’s a great way to help people who may not have as much, as we approach the holidays,” said WVHS junior and Leo Club member Emily Edwards, who was packing boxes on Nov. 18 with fellow junior Cassie Nedley. Each box contained numerous cans of vegetables and fruits, as well as pastas, gravy mixes, bottled juice and instant potatoes.
“It’s much more than just a meal,” said Jim Smith, who has been involved with the project for many years as a former WVHS teacher and as a Lions Club member. At the school, logistics are handled by Leo Club advisor Beth Trowbridge, who noted that the People Helping People project provides an opportunity for students to give back to the community at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Smith related that the students and business leaders involved with the food distribution can trace its history back to the 1970s, when Wyalusing businessman Joe Baker got the ball rolling. Several different people and organizations were involved with the project through the next decade until the Lions and Lionesses officially adopted People Helping People to ensure its consistency.
Both groups traditionally contribute $2,000 to $3,000 each year to supplement the amount of food collected. For Thanksgiving this year, that amount was kept in check by a clever senior project devised by WVHS student Cathryn Pugh, whose inaugural Turkey Trot attracted 29 runners, who contributed as many frozen turkeys to the cause.
For their part, the Leo Club members at the school left after packing boxes on Friday afternoon and returned to the school at 7:30 on Saturday morning to give the food to the eligible families who had registered in advance for them.
“All of our volunteers obviously care about people,” Trowbridge said of their participation at the break of dawn. “Despite the early morning, they are always pleasant and wish everybody a Happy Holiday as they depart.”
“They always seem really appreciative when we help carry the food to their cars,” Edwards said of the recipients.