‘IT’S NEIGHBOR HELPING NEIGHBOR’
Two churches collaborate on Thanksgiving baskets
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.