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Volunteers to create Christmas baskets for Youngstown's needy

YOUNGSTOWN -- Volunteers will gather next week to pick up, sort, wrap and deliver food and presents to the needy in Youngstown and Porter as part of the annual Youngstown Community Christmas Baskets effort.

Boy Scout Troop 829 and Cub Scout Pack 829 of Youngstown and their families will go door-to-door at dinnertime Tuesday, Dec. 13 to pick up bags of canned goods and other non-perishables left on doorsteps throughout the village. These goods may also be dropped off at the Red Brick building at 240 Lockport St. by Friday, Dec. 16.

“The Scouts are few and mighty and can’t do the whole village,” explained Margaret-Ann “Peggy” Hanson, the project organizer. “If they miss you, drop your canned goods off at the Red Brick.”

The gym of the Red Brick building will be command central as volunteers sort and wrap toys and other presents from 9 a.m to noon Dec. 12-16.

Girl Scout Troop 7283 will contribute homemade cookies to the Christmas baskets, Hanson noted.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, volunteers will go shopping for food to supplement the canned goods donations. Hanson said volunteers are needed to help transport food.

The volunteers will gather a final time at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 to pack and deliver the “baskets,” which are actually sturdy boxes.

Hanson said her volunteers will help create around 50 baskets altogether, delivering them to individuals and to families, to help make the holidays a little brighter.

Some recipients have been so grateful in years past that they have returned as volunteers, she noted.

Hanson receives the names of the needy through the local schools and churches. She is quick to add that only she and the volunteers delivering the baskets know the names of the recipients.

Church-goers will see a plea for volunteers in today’s church bulletins, she said.

“I’ve sent out about 75 letters asking for volunteers,” she added.

“Some come just to pack and some just to deliver,” she said. “I used to worry, ‘What if it snows and people don’t show up?’ But I don’t worry anymore. Through the years, I can almost tell who will show up to sort the cans and who will show up to deliver the boxes.”

Hanson has been participating in this for more than a quarter century and said that she will step down as the organizer after this year.

Through the years, she and her group have built a strong rapport with the local churches and civic organizations.

Some knit hats, gloves and mittens, like members of St. John’s Lutheran Church and the Lewiston Seniors, she pointed out. Others, like the Youngstown Lions Club, purchase hams and help deliver the baskets. She also named the Youngstown Women’s Club, Garden Club, Study Club, Yacht Club, Lewiston-Porter Retired Teachers, Volunteer Fire Company’s Women’s Auxiliary and Youngstown Free Library as loyal contributors. DiMino’s Tops and CWM have also been very generous, she noted, as well as many local individuals, like Mickey and Grant Morris, who donate the boxes, and Tom Tower, who donates produce.

“For the past three years, the U.S. Coast Guard (which has a station in Youngstown) has adopted a family and they get really excited about it,” she said. “They ask for the children’s ages, interests and sizes, and they help deliver the baskets, too.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer for any amount of time may just show up at the Red Brick gym during the times listed above. Hanson may be reached at 745-7285 for more information.

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