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Local non-profit aims to feed 9,000 families this Thanksgiving

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PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- The Commission on Economic Opportunity is aiming to provide Thanksgiving meals for 9,000 families in need in Luzerne and Wyoming counties this year.

For the past two weekends, volunteers in Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, and Tunkhannock distributed bags stuffed with the ingredients for a full turkey dinner to 8,000 families.

1,000 more will have hot meals delivered to them on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a day to spend time with friends and family and express gratitude, usually while stuffing your faces with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

But for many families, those classic holiday fixings can be hard to come by.

That’s where the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank comes in.

Its one of the main programs of the Commission on Economic Opportunity, a local non profit with offices in Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, and Tunkhannock.

“For Thanksgiving we do distributions of food at all three sites going out to families that are going to prepare their own meals,” Director of the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank Rich Kutz said.

The CEO has been feeding families for Thanksgiving for 38 years.

For the past two weekends, volunteers stuffed bags full of ingredients for a full turkey dinner at each location and gave them to the 8,000 families that registered.

“Some of the product that we distributed was product that was donated. In addition, we have made purchases especially the turkeys are purchased as well as some government foods that do come in,” Kutz said.

But the work doesn’t stop there.

Now, volunteers are preparing to deliver hot meals on Thanksgiving Day to those who are homebound and unable to get to a distribution center.

And the center in Hazleton is planning a big sit down dinner anyone can attend.

Nancy Frey is a former employee of the CEO and now volunteers, she says they expect at least 150 people to come to that dinner and just as many volunteers.

“Tomorrow afternoon, there’s a local group gathering to peel potatoes. We have 250 pounds of potatoes that will be prepared fresh. 40 turkeys have been handed out to people who volunteer and take them home, cook them, and bring them in ready for us to slice up,” Frey said.

And after that meal is over, Nancy says the process starts over again with a lot less food in the pantry, so its important for people to step up and donate when they can.

“Next month there will be people who need food again. I mean, if you have a family of six, a turkey and the fixings is great for the day, the weekend, but there’s a heating bill – a heating crisis right now too, so that digs into people’s pockets.”

The CEO is still looking for volunteers for those Thanksgiving Day dinner preparations and deliveries…

If you’re interested in helping out or donating call (570) 455-4994.

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