Two churches col­lab­o­rate on Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pete Bannan pban­nan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @pe­te­ban­nan on Twit­ter

It all started with soda money. Twenty-seven years ago, Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ parish­ioner Lil­lian Middleton started sell­ing so­das at her job as a care­taker and her neigh­bor­hood to raise money for Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets for West Ch­ester res­i­dents in need. The first year she saved enough money to make nine bas­kets. Though Middleton passed away in 2012 her ef­forts have con­tin­ued,

In 2016, and 3,000 Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets, later Mount Carmel and Church of the Lov­ing Shep­herd, which joined the ef­forts 20 years ago, have con­tin­ued to aid fam­i­lies in the West Ch­ester area.

“It’s es­ca­lated ev­ery year,” said Mount Carmel Pas­tor Mil­ton Bax­ter.”This year we are giv­ing out over 230 bas­kets to Ch­ester County res­i­dents in need.”

On Fri­day morn­ing, vol­un­teers from both churches were putting the fin­ish­ing touches on the ef­forts, sep­a­rat­ing the loads of gro­ceries into boxes. The bas­kets, which will be de­liv­ered on Saturday, and in­clude a turkey and the all the trim­mings, will go to needy West Ch­ester area res­i­dents. Some will also go to church mem­bers in other ar­eas of the county as well.

The pro­gram is or­ga­nized by Con­nie Wil­liams of Mount Carmel and Meg Cowan-French of Lov­ing Shep­herd. The women es­ti­mate they spend 16-18 hours plan­ning, con­tact­ing agen­cies and find­ing do­na­tions even be­fore the bas­kets ar­rive.

The two churches start in Au­gust and Septem­ber

“In times of divi­sion, it’s so nice to come to­gether and do some­thing pos­i­tive.” — Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ Pas­tor Mil­ton Bax­ter

get­ting the names of those truly in need from word of mouth among parish­ioners as well as from Hu­man Ser­vices of Ch­ester County and the Friends As­so­ci­a­tion for the Care and Pro­tec­tion of Ch­ester County and the Chil­dren.

“It’s grass­roots, neigh­bor help­ing neigh­bor,” said Cowan-French. “We want to give to peo­ple but we don’t want to make them have to fill out a form to get help.”

“Look at how it has grown,” said Wil­liams. “It’s amaz­ing so many peo­ple show up to help. With the econ­omy and peo­ple’s job sit­u­a­tion there is more need. It’s a lit­tle ex­tra to get them though sit­u­a­tions.”

Bax­ter said ShopRite in West Ch­ester is the big­gest con­trib­u­tor as well as Gi­ant Food Stores, Weg­mans and the Ch­ester County Food Bank. He said many re­cip­i­ents of the bas­kets live in apart­ments in the area in­clud­ing; Spruce and Maple courts, Union Court and Apart­ments for Mod­ern Liv­ing in West Ch­ester.

Cowan-French said the food bas­kets have helped the two churches come to­gether.

“It’s def­i­nitely a gift, the two churches work­ing to­gether,” she said.

“In times of divi­sion, it’s so nice to come to­gether and do some­thing pos­i­tive,” Bax­ter said.

The churches also run the pro­gram at Easter. For those wish­ing to con­trib­ute, do­na­tions are wel­come. Con­tact Mount Carmel Home Mis­sion Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets, 628 E. Miner St., West Ch­ester, PA 19382, 610-692-9650.


Mount Carmel Church’s Joan Bax­ter holds one of the turkeys that will go in Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets, which will be given out to area res­i­dents in need Saturday.

Mount Carmel Dea­con Leroy Davis packs Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets in the base­ment of the church Fri­day. They will be given out to area res­i­dents in need Saturday.

Tom Bare of the Church of the Lov­ing Shep­herd in West Ch­ester loads Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets at Mount Carmel Church for Saturday de­liv­ery.


Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets are lined up in front of Mount Carmel Church, wait­ing to be loaded in vol­un­teers’ cars and trucks for Saturday de­liv­ery.


Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ Parish­ioner Vi­o­let Cole loads Thanks­giv­ing bas­kets into her car. On Saturday she will give them out to area res­i­dents in need.

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