Lending a helping hand
Newarkers help neighbors have a better Thanksgiving
The dozens of bags filled with food that lined the sidewalk outside of White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church were waiting for pick up Tuesday evening.
Dozens of volunteers gathered Thanksgiving meals for 30 families, helping 50 adults and 91 children, said Katie Melville, who spearheaded the drive.
“It’s just a huge blessing for us to be a part of,” Melville said. “I have to tell you, it’s not just about the food. It’s really a great ministry and it’s a great way to come together as a church family.”
Church members helped social workers load up their cars so they could deliver the meals to the families Tuesday night.
“People always need food anywhere you are,” said Nancy Aupperle. “It’s a blessing to us to give back just a little of what we have.”
Mary Jo Kulp concurred. “It’s nice to be able to help out when you have plenty and other people don’t, especially this time of year,” she said as she checked over which donations had been received. “God reminds us to share.”
The White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church food drive was just one example of the charitable efforts occurring throughout Newark in preparation for Thanksgiving this year.
Statewide, the Food Bank of Delaware distributed over 2,500 Thanksgiving boxes and turkeys through a network of partners last week, said Kim Turner, a spokeswoman for the food bank.
“It seems like everybody in the community is reaching out to help during this time of year,” she noted.
A number of different drives helped benefit the Food Bank this season – the city of Newark collected non-perishable donations at city hall to support the food bank’s “Thanksgiving for All” campaign, and DART held several Stuff the Bus initiatives throughout October and November.
Natalie Ginsberg, 17, marked her 10th consecutive year of donating to the Food Bank.
When she was about 6, she saw local newspaper coverage of Delaware Does More, an intiative asking people donate for the holiday.
With her upbringing in her childcare center and her temple – which emphasized the “giving of loving kindness” – Ginsberg felt compelled to do something to help.
She has a simple reason for why she keeps with it: “There’s no reason to stop,” she said.
“When people talk about volunteering, they talk a lot about how much it fulfills them, which is totally true, but it’s also just more, for me, more of an inclination to help people in need, and that’s never really faded. So there’s no reason to stop,” she explained.
In 10 years, she has enlisted the help of friends and neighbors, collecting nearly 6,000 pounds worth of food.
“I guess, beside the fact that I don’t know if I’d be able to conduct it all on my own, it’s important to me, because I think that everyone that I know, everyone in the community, should realize that, with generosity and with some effort, you can make a difference,” she said.
A senior at Newark Charter School, Ginsberg is an officer for the National Honor Society.
“One of the four pillars of that is service,” she said. “I’m an officer there, and one of my roles is to encourage other student service, so I guess this is just one way of doing that.”
Looking ahead toward college, Ginsberg said she’s interested in social-psychology and anthropology.
“I think that real empathy comes from understanding values of others, and the beliefs of others. And knowing that you have to look at more than your immediate surroundings,” she said, adding that seems to tie in nicely with her goals of donating to the food bank.
She added that anyone can do something.
“It’s not exclusive to me,” she said. “It might seem unattainable at first but no matter how trivial a donation might feel, I think it’ll be appreciated by anyone. And I think that could serve as a motivation for anyone in the community to give back.”
Though Thanksgiving is over, Turner noted that donations don’t have to stop after the holiday.
“I know that at the holidays, we’re always looking out for our neighbors in need,” she said. “I want to remind people that hunger exists year round. We’re dependent on the support of the community, not only during the holidays, but after. Food drives decrease in January, so I hope people will think about their hungry neighbors in need all year long.”
Over at White Clay Creek Presbyterian, they’re already gearing up for the rest of the year: an assortment of new coats was piled atop a table in the church, awaiting delivery to the recipients of their next drive.
Members of White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church donated ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner and helped organize the meals to be dropped off Tuesday night.