SPARTA, NJ - Although Thanksgiving has yet to be celebrated, the volunteers at the Sparta Ecumenical Food Pantry are preparing for Christmas. In the midst of helping clients, Administrator Suzanne Blecker and Valerie Macchio discussed the organizations plans.
Volunteers working Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the day and Tuesday and Thursday at night are beginning to sort the donated food. Both individuals and groups, such as cub scouts, volunteer a few hours to support the effort. Soon they will also begin bagging the Christmas meal that will include a turkey, side dishes, even dessert and coffee. This is the first year the food pantry, located at the First Presbyterian Church on Main Street, is organizing the Christmas dinner event. Cynthai Yuskaitis is the project coordinator for the Christmas Project.
"The program was founded by People Help", Blecker explained. This organization, coordinated by Gail Swain, provides one time emergency help to residents of Sussex county. The Christmas program was later run by various other organizations before moving to its current Sparta home.
The First Presbyterian church is also running a toy drive. The two efforts are to be combined into one larger Christmas celebration for Sussex county residents in need. Each family will receive toys for the children and dinner.
"Some of the first food donations have already been dropped off at the food pantry as part of a community service food drive by Cub Scout Pack 82, which holds its meetings at the church," according to Macchio. Macchio also serves as Committee Chair for Pack 82.
This year, clients must register in person at the SEFP during food pantry hours, in order to be eligible for the Christmas program. The deadline for registering is Friday, Nov 15.
All food donations are welcome but the following items are needed for the Christmas dinner bags;
- 5 lb bag of potatoes,
- egg noodles,
- apple sause,
- cranberry relish,
- canned corn or carrots,
- canola oil,
- small boxes Jello mix,
- cake, brownie or cookie mix,
- hot chocolate,
- shelf stable or powdered milk,
- candy canes or chocolate kisses
Anyone interested in volunteering can email the Sparta Ecumenical Food Pantry at firstname.lastname@example.org.