667872_thanksgiving_turkey_white_background.jpgWho can forget the disturbing news of six Harrison town employees caught taking food and clothing from the Harrison Food Pantry. This was a story that upset so many of us as we felt taken advantage of. It made one wonder – why should I donate food, clothing, or any other items when people, obviously not in need of help, are taking the items before the needy ever get a chance to see it? Unfortunately, crime does exist in all areas – even those where we are trying to help. Swift action was taken in this matter and all employees involved in the matter were suspended and faced various legal charges. That is what we should focus on – they will be left to face their crimes, but there are still many needy people who are going hungry every day.

September is National Hunger Awareness Month. Many groups and organizations have organized additional events and activities to promote awareness of this problem. Some of the groups include Catholic Community Services, Good Samaritan Hospital, People to People, United way, just to name a few. The goals are simple: Bring awareness to the issue of hunger and how it is affecting individuals and families; Educate the community; and directly increase support to local food pantries and feeding programs. Although we understand that the recession has taken a major toll on donations, it was never expected that it would be this severe.

This year seems to have the same message ringing – WE NEED HELP! Many of the food pantries in the area are unusually low, especially for this time of year with the upcoming holidays right around the corner. The Mount Prospect food pantry reports they are dangerously low on food items. Their Holiday Meal Basket program serves about 120 families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and they also provide general emergency assistance to residents in need throughout the year.

Another asset of food pantries is to help the disabled on a monthly basis. People to People, is Rockland County’s largest pantry. People to People provide food, clothing options and familiar faces. They have reported that not only are their food supplies low, but the clothing racks are nearly empty also. The organization also accepts donations of dishes, kitchenware, small appliances, bedding and towels.

Although many people contribute food and clothing to various pantries, it is the monetary donations that make the biggest difference. Monetary donations go a lot further than food and clothing donations – although no donation will be turned away. It has been reported that a $1 donation to certain food pantries can generate $6-7 worth of food because these pantries are members of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, which allows them to purchase food at a greatly reduced costs.

On a final note, please do not forget the thousands of pets who are not homeless and living on the streets because of the help of the Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry. The Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry assists animal shelters and rescue groups and offers assistance to fixed-income senior citizens, the disabled, veterans, and others who qualify because they lack the financial resources to properly feed their pets.

‘Tis the season – help your fellow man, woman, child, and pet.

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