SCRANTON – The line started forming hours before the doors of the Scranton Cultural Center even opened. Wearing jackets and hats to stay warm, seniors, parents and individuals looking for a helping hand all waited for the Family to Family Food Basket Program to kick off.
For more than 30 years, the Family to Family program has provided families in need with a food basket to prepare a complete Thanksgiving dinner at home for their friends and family.
For the last five years, the Robeson family has helped lead the program.
“We are prepared to serve 2,800 people today,” Linda Robeson said.
Before the first recipients began filing into the Scranton Cultural Center, Father Jeffrey J. Walsh, V.E., Episcopal Vicar for Clergy, led organizers and volunteers in prayer.
Many of those who volunteer for the annual program are from Diocesan schools or parishes.
“I just like to help out and I just love seeing everyone’s face. It is really nice,” Kara Judge said.
Judge is an eighth grade student at Saint Clare/Saint Paul School in Scranton. She volunteered at the Family to Family program last year.
“There are certain stations and you just bag up the food and then the families take the food and the older kids will help bring it out to their cars,” Judge said.
Judge and her friend Caroline Kennedy, also an eighth grade student at Saint Clare/Saint Paul School, were in charge of the apple juice and cranberry station.
“It makes me feel good, refreshing in a way, to just help everybody out!” Caroline Kennedy said.
“It just makes me feel so good knowing that I’m helping other people,” Judge added.
While it takes months to prepare for the annual Family to Family program, Linda Robeson says the event would not be able to take place without all the volunteers and students who help out.
“The kids are so wonderful because they’re so willing to do whatever you ask them to do so that makes it just as nice,” Robeson said. “It is really organized chaos because people have been coming for so long and it’s such a family experience and they know their jobs. They come in and start bagging turkeys and the yams and everything else!”
Even as the program hands out food baskets, organizers say they are still in need of donations to pay the food bill.
“Things are a little bit short this year and unfortunately the price of turkeys went up so our bill is about $5,000 or $6,000 higher than it was last year. Everybody is trying to do so much for everybody but money is a little slow this year. I’m sure with the Grace of God everything will come through!” Robeson said.
If you’d like to make a donation, you can make an online donation at www.familytofamilypa.org or you can send a payment to:
Family to Family Food Basket Program
PO Box 13
Scranton, PA 18501