SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy for families but the financial pressure this time of year can be a serious strain.
It’s why hundreds and hundreds of local families headed out Thursday in the cold to get some help with their holiday food order. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains why it’s considered a “hand up” and not a handout.
It was an assembly line of volunteers at St. Mary’s Center in Scranton stuffing bags with all the makings for a holiday feast. There was no charge here for a turkey or ham, or the veggies, eggs and bread and even the dessert. This Christmas food distribution was for financially qualifying families like Viktor Mullen’s.
“We never really reached out for help but recently, you know, I got laid off from my job,” said the Scranton man.
Others here were retired and on a fixed income like Carol Barr of Blakely.
“Oh, it is very helpful because sometimes, you know, that check in the middle of the month doesn’t stretch very far,” she said.
She bristles at the idea that people were in line to take advantage of charity.
“It’s for people that lose their jobs or are down on their luck that appreciate this. Not the ones that are trying to take advantage,” she said.
“Unfortunately, we do hear that from time to time,” said Meghan Loftus who is President/CEO of Friends of the Poor which sponsors this giveaway. “We believe we’re here as a hand up and not a handout and we’re here for those people who are really working and giving it their all and just can’t make it work at the end of the day.”
It’s not that people in line who benefit from the food distribution wouldn’t have anything on their table for the holidays. It’s that given this time of year it really helps remove some of the stress. By providing a holiday meal with all the trimmings, the distribution allows families who are struggling to make ends meet, focus on what’s really important.
“Families can think more about enjoying the time with their kids and playing with their children,” said Ms. Loftus.
It’s what Mr. Mullen plans to do with his six-month-old son thanks to this holiday “hand up”.
“It helps you to get into a better position so you can be better next near and then you can help things like this, you know,” he said.
Friends of the Poor said any leftover food would go back to their two pantries to help those in need after Thursday. The non-profit also helps with food distributions at Easter and Thanksgiving.