Volunteers help provide Thanksgiving dinner to 144 families in Potsdam area
Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 7:11 am

 

From left, Bill Crary and Tony Woods help fill food boxes for the Potsdam Interfaith Thanksgiving Program Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The food boxes were given to 144 Potsdam area families in need to help with their holiday dinner. Volunteers from five local religious groups, as well as several clubs and businesses worked together to make the food baskets possible.

 BY CHERYL SHUMWAY
North Country This Week

POTSDAM – A total of 144 Potsdam area families in need will have more to be thankful for this holiday season when they receive holiday baskets for their Thanksgiving dinner.

Volunteers from five local religious groups, as well as several clubs and businesses worked together to make the food baskets possible.

Faye Simmons, coordinator of the annual event, said work began a few months ago with the collection of boxes and the organization of food drives.

The Newman Club collected canned foods from Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam campuses. The Potsdam High School Honor Society, Middle School Builders’ Club and Kiwanis K-Kids placed food donation boxes in the Potsdam Central schools.

Food drives at the Potsdam Methodist, Presbyterian and St. Mary’s Catholic churches, Beth El Congregation, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints raise money.

Local businesses and organizations donated to the baskets as well.

Walmart and the Potsdam Lions Club each donated $850, and Donaldson-Seymour Funeral Home contributed $750. Kinney Drugs and Walgreens helped to provide milk for the baskets, and Martin’s Farm Stand donated vegetables.

Turkeys, bread, potatoes and cranberry sauce were purchased, then baskets were put together by volunteers at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints starting on Saturday. The baskets were available for pickup or delivery on Monday.

“The giving of Thanksgiving baskets started around 1974 with Sister Mary Grotto, a nun at St. Mary’s School. She looked around her classroom with many needy students, and she decided to start the program,” said Simmons.

“Then the program grew beyond St. Mary’s School. It expanded to the larger Potsdam community with the help of Betty Rowe and Pat Reichart,” Simmons said.

She took over as organizer in 2016.