By Mary Morrell | Correspondent
Giving, said Cathy Coryat, is not a single season outreach. Coryat and her husband, Dale Jones, run the Loaves and Fishes Ministry in Assumption Parish, New Egypt, and, at this time of year, are holding their annual Easter food baskets drive.
Theirs is just one of many outreach programs being run in parishes across the Diocese during Lent and Easter to help those who might otherwise go without food or who would appreciate a variety of household or personal items.
Collecting food at the holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, said Coryat, “gives people an opportunity to share with their families a more special meal than on other days.” But, she stressed, the need is year ‘round.
“People call around the holidays and ask for help,” Coryat said, but to meet every day needs Loaves and Fishes also mans a food pantry all year in the parish.
Coryat credits the generosity of parishioners for making it possible for the ministry to provide between 15-20 families with food for holiday meals.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences are also at work in parishes, including St. Dominic, Brick, and St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford, gathering and gifting food , personal items and Easter baskets for families in need, while the Helping Hands Ministry in Epiphany Parish, Brick, is asking parishioners or groups to consider donating a complete Easter dinner basket or a ham for a family in need.
In St. Leo the Great Parish, Lincroft, the social concerns committee displays the Lenten Sharing Tree, using the butterfly as a symbol of hope in the Resurrection. Parishioners are asked to take a butterfly envelope and return it with a donation which will allow the committee to feed those in need at Easter.
The Easter Giving tree in St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, provides parishioners with plastic Easter eggs filled not with candy but with the names of much needed baby items like formula, diapers, baby food and baby wipes, to be distributed to First Way, an organization that provides help to mothers with babies.
Four organizations with unique requests – Catholic Charities Providence House, Anchor House, Doorway to Hope and Trenton Area Soup Kitchen – will be the beneficiaries of Lenten Treasure Chests being filled in Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport, with specific items requested for the unique communities the organizations serve.
“It’s important to get involved in programs serving those in need,” said Past Grand Knight John Sikorski, Lawrenceville Knights of Columbus Council 7000.
The council is sponsoring an Easter Food Drive for Mercer High School, in Mercer County Special Services School District. which serves autistic, behavioral and cognitively challenged youth ages 14 to 21.
“It all began with a quarter,” said Sikorski, who explained that his son, who was a student at the school, came home and asked for money for his fellow students who couldn’t afford a 25 cent fee for a school activity.
That was six years ago and today the council serves some 60 school families through Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter food drives. “Of the 350 students in the school, half live below the poverty line,” said Sikorski, who serves as chairman of the donation program. “We are often sheltered from the needs of others,” he stressed.
Sikorski also attributes the program’s success to the generosity of members of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, who often contribute hundreds of bags of groceries at a time.
Those wishing to contribute food, supplies or financial donations to families in need during the Easter season are encouraged to check their parish bulletins for opportunities.