Ladies of Charity programs ease hunger in the community

The Ladies of Charity prepared nearly 800 Christmas baskets of food to be distributed to those in need. The organization increased the number of boxes it will distribute this year because of greater need caused by the coronavirus. Helen Bussell, right, helps Diana Boyd of Christ the King Church fill one of the Christmas baskets.
Photo by Andy Telli

The Ladies of Charity boosted their annual Christmas Basket program this year to help more families struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s been a lot more hunger,” said Margie Druffel, chair of the Christmas Basket program.

The organization prepared 797 boxes of food this year, Druffel said. “We started out planning for 700 but the need was so much higher,” she said. “You can’t say no.”

Each box had enough food for several meals for a family, including: a ham, salmon, rice, beans, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, soup, peanut butter, jelly, bread, eggs, canned goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, bread, and a can of black-eyed peas “for good luck for the new year,” Druffel said.

Members assembled the boxes on Friday, Dec. 18, and then distributed them on Saturday, Dec. 19, to parishes and other organizations, which in turn handed them out to people in need.

The program is funded with donations from Ladies of Charity members, Druffel said. The parochial schools in the area “collect food for us and help us a lot,” Druffel said. “This year is really heroic considering how hard it is just to run a school” during the pandemic, she added.

Besides the Christmas Basket program, the Ladies of Charity have been working to ease hunger in the community in other ways. The organization received a federal CARES Act grant for $39,000 and used that money to prepare 350 bags of groceries every week since September to distribute to those in need, Druffel said.

The grocery bags of food were distributed through parishes, area public schools and other organizations.