Locals are feeling fortunate and thankful for what they have, and so they’re reaching into their pockets to help those less fortunate.
Harborside Rotary Club and Youth with a Mission (YWAM) partnered to distribute bins of Thanksgiving food for residents who are finding it difficult to make ends meet this year. Members of the St. Croix Federation of Teachers collected food last weekend and gave it to Catholic Charities Tuesday for distribution.
Cherilyn Derusha, children’s ministry director at YWAM in Estate Diamond, said the less fortunate have food stamps, but there are also working families with budgets stretched to the max.
“It’s the people who are almost middle class that need our help,” Derusha, said. She added her team delivered Thanksgiving food and the fixings to a policeman, his wife, and their four children on Tuesday.
“They make too much for food stamps,” Derusha said. “They had to take a pay cut. People won’t ask others for help because they don’t want them to know they’re having difficulties.”
“Dads are stressed out over how they’re going to provide for their families,” she said, adding that they generally give the food to families of children they do mission work with in YWAM and church projects.
Harborside Rotary member Lionel Downer said the club has been providing food for the needy for more than 10 years. Rotarians quickly filled 18 red plastic storage containers. Downer said the volunteers had 20 deliveries last year and the number served is usually around 15.
Rotarians purchased items out of their own pocket. Merchants Market, Cost You Less and Teddy Richards helped sponsor the donations. Five Rotarians were working Monday at Teddy’s Party Center with a turkey, Stove Top stuffing, pigeon peas, mixed vegetables, cranberry sauce, fruit cocktail, rice and packets of Sazon seasoning.
Downer says his is a small club with seven members but it is very active and “hands-on,” even as he ran out to buy more sparkling cider. Downer says if anyone wants to join and help them with community service to call him at 277-7206. The Rotary motto is service above self.
Piles of nonperishable food items were also collected over the weekend during a food drive sponsored by St. Croix Federation of Teachers, Local 1826.
Shoppers at Plaza Extra East, Plaza West and Cost You Less were asked to purchase something from a list of needed foodstuffs and drop it off with a Federation of Teachers member as they left the store. The food items, ranging from canned fruits and vegetables to rice, beans and other staples, have been distributed by Catholic Charities to area families.
“St. Croix teachers were excited to be able to help with this effort,” said Rosa Soto-Thomas, STXFT president. “We are committed to working with individuals and organizations in our community to help solve the many challenges faced by the kids in our classrooms and their families.”
“We jumped at the chance to work with Catholic Charities on this food drive,” Soto-Thomas continued, adding that the union is grateful to the local community for its contributions during these challenging economic times.
Soto-Thomas said the food collection is part of an ongoing community outreach effort by the union that represents teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff in the St. Croix School District.