The food is beginning to pile up at Newark Neighbours, along with some gifts and wrapping paper, in anticipation of ensuring those who may be struggling at this time of year will have a happy Christmas.
Single mothers who are hoping for a special meal and gifts for their children, parents who are experiencing hard times and seniors who find it difficult to make ends meet at this time of year will be helped by the generosity of locals and the dedicated efforts of a group of about 35 volunteers, who will make sure those in need will have enough food over the holidays, and some gifts that make the difference between a good Christmas and no Christmas.
Monday morning, the Newark Neighbours parking lot was full and the thrift store was busy. Chair Laura Gibson says a lot of items for the store are dropped off over the weekend, and as volunteers are busy sorting the newly-arrived merchandise, shoppers are hoping to find the best deals. Their shopping dollars help to fund the good work Newark is able to do.
The thrift store area is small, but organized and tidy, with volunteers taking pride in looking after their assigned sections, says Gibson.
In addition to the donations received from the community, the local thrift store and food bank has people who sponsor families at this time of year, buying all that will be needed to deliver a great Christmas. There are about 60 clients expected to require help this year, says food bank manager Marion Ollerhead. Although registration is open until Dec. 10, there are already enough sponsors lined up to help, but there are some food items needed, she says, such as Christmas cookies, cake mixes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and canned mixed vegetables.
Newark will order turkeys from Kent Heritage Farms, so if anyone is planning on donating a turkey, says Ollerhead, please let her know so she can adjust her order.
There may be some in need of help over the holidays who aren’t regular clients of Newark Neighbours, and if they qualify, they will receive assistance, says Ollerhead.
For families with children, one of the volunteers calls when there are kids involved to see what they are hoping to receive at Christmas, and will pass that information on to sponsors. That way there’s a good chance the children will receive at least some of what was on their wish list.
Newark Neighbours was founded in 1971 by Peggy Anderson, who came to Canada as a war bride. In her early years in town, she worked on local farms, where she met several large families who were struggling, and wanted to ensure they didn’t go hungry.
Today, Newark requires evidence of eligibility for those requiring assistance, including proof of income.
Newark receives no government funding, using revenue from its thrift store to help the needy and to pay the bills for the “barn,” as the building is called, located off the Riverbend Inn driveway at 310 John Street East. For more information call 905-468-3519.