St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Basket Program gearing up for distribution on Nov. 19 in Potsdam
Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 8:38 am

POTSDAM -- St. Mary's Thanksgiving Basket Program is gearing up for its annual distribution of holiday food to needy families, and has set some dates for donors to help prepare the baskets.

They are seeking donations of turkeys and non-perishable foods, such as stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, vegetables, and pie filling, and of money to pay for turkeys and perishables. Items can be brought on or before Friday, Nov. 16 to St. Mary's rectory at 17 Lawrence Ave. or the lobby at St. Mary's Church.

Box packing day is Friday Nov. 16. Potato bagging day is Saturday, Nov. 17, which will be done by Boy Scout Troop 77.

Distribution day is Monday, Nov. 19, from The Church of Latter Day Saints on Castle Drive, which has been generous in providing space for the program for the last five years since St. Mary’s School closed.

Annual participants include the local Lions, Elks and Kiwanis Clubs and Knights of Columbus, with donations that go toward turkeys. The Lions helps with deliveries. Potsdam Central School clubs hold grocery store food drives and make monetary donations. Parishioners from St. Mary's Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints make donations of non-perishables and recruit sorters and packers from church youth groups.

This program distributes food to families who need it, regardless of religious belief. Some of these are large families; many are elderly people who live alone and may be home-bound.

“There is a small core group of volunteers whom we can count on most every year to help with some of the pre-distribution tasks, sorting, packing, set-up before distribution, delivery, and working on the day of distribution—checking people in, working tables, distributing and assisting the clients with getting their boxes to their cars,” said Pat Reichhart, who is co-director of the program with Betty Rowe.

“We're ever so grateful for whatever help the community can give to aid us in putting these food boxes together for around 90 to 100 families,” Reichhart said.