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Waddington Neighborhood Center prepares holiday boxes

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WADDINGTON – Volunteers at Waddington’s Neighborhood Center are working very hard to keep up with demand this holiday season.

On Wednesday, the group distributed food to over 40 families in the towns of Waddington, Madrid and Lisbon and the hamlet of Chase Mills, Director Edie M. Streeter said.

“We offer free food twice a month,” she said. “It could come anywhere from Malone, some from Syracuse and some through donations. Gleaning is definitely up by 30 to 40 percent.”

“Gleaning” is what the center calls distributing the food. It’s from the Bible, Ms. Streeter says, which means to share leftover crops after a harvest.

While the all-volunteer organization received a record number of donations this year, it is still trying to keep up with demand.

The center still needs items for its special holiday-themed, food-stuffed packages to be delivered to families the week before Christmas. Volunteers initially predicted they would need close to 40 boxes. As of Wednesday, projected demand has risen to 60 boxes.

Fliers have been sent around town, and a drop box has been placed at River Run Fitness, 17 Bowling Court. The center is asking for items such as canned fruit, stuffing mix, jello, hot chocolate, canned sweet potatoes, pudding and sticks of butter.

“For our holiday boxes, we give out food in boxes in appropriate sizes for each family,” Ms. Streeter said. “This year the boxes are looking like they will have really good stuff in them. We include a dinner for Christmas and special meals for the children who are out of school.”

“We always make sure we provide packages of hot cocoa for each family, and we try to get candy canes for each of the children, and marshmallows, too,” she said.

Ms. Streeter, who has served as volunteer director for four years, said she looks forward to this time of year because of the excitement the holiday packages bring to children.

I think many of the children wouldn’t have goodies without these boxes,” she said. “They love boxed macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, hot dogs, and I make sure those items go home to the children. I try to reach out to the kids as much as the adults. If you know someone who needs something, tell me who they are and I will go out and try to reach out to them.”

Families who qualify can register for gleaning or a holiday box by visiting the center to pick up an application. The neighborhood center is open 9 to 11 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Gleaning is the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

The deadline to apply for the holiday box is Monday, with pickup on Dec. 19.

“Donations are always welcome,” Ms. Streeter said. “Waddington is very fortunate. We have a very generous community, with pretty generous organizations and businesses that donate.”

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