This year’s Christmas food giveaway set a record.
“We signed up 201 families and this year we tied with Thanksgiving,” said Bernie Raab, office coordinator for Well-Help, which provides holiday food giveaways three times annually. “There are more people that need help. In the last six months we’ve been averaging 15 new families a month and that’s people who have never been here.”
Located on Park Place next to Wellington town hall, Well-Help provides holiday food giveaways at Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas and, typically, Christmas food giveaways are the smallest.
But not this year. “We have a lot of people who might have a job, but they are lucky to be able to pay their rent, let alone all the other necessities,” Raab said. “There’s food and prescriptions and a lot of people just let their prescriptions go.”
At a toy distribution earlier in the month, 170 youngsters received gifts. “That’s more than what we usually do,” Raab said. “Everything has been more this year.”
Raab has worked at Well-Help for 12 years and prior to that served on the board. When she first began only 25 families a month were getting food compared to 160 today.
In 2014, Well-Help donated $65,000 worth of food to people in the community, said Raab.
“Christmas in a Box” includes mashed potatoes, yams, pork and beans, mushroom soup, green beans, peas, gelatin, fruit, brownies, bread, rolls, margarine, eggs, and cheese sauce. A ham is also included.
“People are very grateful and appreciative,” Raab said. “A lot of them say that if it weren’t for us they don’t know what they would have done.”
“We live in a very generous community,” she said. “If it wasn’t for our community we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Food drives throughout the year, including recent ones at Wellington and Black River school districts, help maintain Well-Help’s food inventory.
Additionally, people can buy pre-made bags of food for $5, $10, or $20 at local stores such as Geyer’s and Village Market; they boast a label, “The Real Hunger Games.”
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
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