Kara Gnall, Catholic Social Services Carbondale Office Supervisor, places stuffing in food bags that were distributed outside Carbondale Area High School on Nov. 20, 2022. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

CARBONDALE – On the Sunday before Thanksgiving – when the temperature didn’t climb much higher than 20 degrees – staff and volunteers from Catholic Social Services were bundled up outdoors serving the community.

In just three hours on Nov. 20, 2022, they distributed 450 turkeys, along with all the trimmings, to people in need in the community of Carbondale. This year, staff went through 150 more turkeys at its food distribution than in 2021.

“There is a great need right now in our area for food,” Kara Gnall, Catholic Social Services Carbondale Office Supervisor, said. “We service about 700 families a month in our food pantry alone.”

Special food distributions, like the one Nov. 20 outside Carbondale Area High School, help to give a ‘hand up’ to those needing assistance.

“In October, we had about ten new families that have never utilized our pantry before and I have a feeling that number will only grow over the next few months with the winter coming. People are very grateful when they come into our pantry,” Gnall added.

Rooted in the Gospel, the mission of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton is to serve individuals and families in poverty and hardship and advocate for individual dignity and self-sufficiency.

“This is a very busy time for us,” Jolette Lyons, Catholic Social Services Director of Lackawanna County Offices, explained.

Jolette Lyons, Catholic Social Services Director of Lackawanna County Offices, and her husband, Harry, pack food bags during a special Thanksgiving Food Distribution in Carbondale on Nov. 20, 2022. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

With the price of groceries, gas and rent continuing to skyrocket, more people are looking for assistance at all of the agencies’ offices, whether they are in Hazleton, Scranton or Wilkes-Barre.

“In October, we had 75 people contact our office (Lackawanna) for help with rental assistance,” Lyons said. “That doesn’t even include those calls that have been coming in for November. We’re working through that list as quickly as we can.”

Because of the generous support of the community, Catholic Social Services is able to continue assisting individuals facing financial hardship.

“We all live in this area. We want to make sure the communities that we live in are supported,” Gnall said.

“Our family belief, and the belief of Catholic Social Services, is you have to take care of your brothers and sisters. You’ve got to take care of somebody else, that is our duty as humans, it’s our duty as Christians, to help other people when we can,” Lyons added.