TOWANDA – If Saints Peter and Paul Church considers itself to be the parish in the heart of the Endless Mountains, the heart of its people is focused squarely on helping members of the community.

“The people of the parish are very interested in supporting a whole variety of programs that are here in Bradford County. Rather than reinventing the wheel and creating things ourselves, we partner with a lot of the other churches and organizations to help and support people that are in this particular area,” Rev. Edward L. Michelini, pastor, said.

With assistance from a social justice grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal, the parish is able to support the Towanda Area Christian Outreach (TACO), which provides emergency food assistance to members of the community.

“This food pantry covers three school districts: Towanda, Wyalusing and Northeast Bradford and that covers a very large area,” Ed Krauss, President, Towanda Area Christian Outreach Association, said.

Once a month, individuals or families in need area able to visit a warehouse to receive enough food to help sustain them for several days.

“We’re in a rural community and most of the time you feel, oh, there’s not that many people here that are in need but the people in this location are really hard-pressed for finding jobs,” Rev. Michelini said.

Parishioners also support the cause by volunteering to sort and distribute food. Many also bring canned food items to Mass to donate.

“At our door, as you enter Saints Peter and Paul Church in Towanda, there’s a basket and it’s designated for TACO. On a Sunday morning there may not be anything in it but at the end of the day, the basket is full and during the week people come and drop food goods off and supplies,” Rev. Michelini said.

The support is greatly appreciated by those in need.

“We have quite a few people that come in. I’ve been doing this 18 years and I get satisfaction out of it because we’re helping those that need help,” Krauss said. “It makes me feel good because some people that come in area homeless and they have absolutely nothing so we can help them along.”

Besides assisting TACO, parishioners at Saints Peter and Paul Church also help with other area organizations that help individuals with home repairs and general financial assistance.

“The people in the parish are very well aware that we’ve applied for the (Social Justice) grants and they’ve been given to those organizations and those organizations are constantly writing me, thanking me and expressing their gratitude,” Rev. Michelini said.

Social justice grants, which are funded by the Diocesan Annual Appeal, directly support parishes in their efforts to serve the needs of their communities. The grants are available to all parishes throughout the Diocese of Scranton.