Holiday Basket Program Reaches Increasing Numbers of Families in Need

by Victoria Iannotta, Holiday Baskets Co-Chair Saturday, December 19, 2009 marked two important events in Philadelphia:  the second biggest snowstorm in our city's history and the annual distribution of Cedar Park Neighbors holiday baskets.

On Friday, the weather prediction for the following day was very bleak. The optimist in me kept hoping that the forecasters were mistaken or that somehow the snowstorm would magically bypass Springfield Avenue in the morning. We needed at least three hours to pack and distribute our 148 holiday food baskets, ideally without the help of a fire truck or reindeer. By 6 am, however, as I watched Cedar Ave. disappear in a blurry haze of snow, the optimist had been replaced by the worrier and I knew we were facing a challenging morning.

Thankfully, I am blessed with a project partner who is able to maintain an enviable sense of calm in the face of apparent disaster.  So as I contemplated how we were going to pack 148  baskets on our own, Joanne Pham assured me that everything would be fine.   And, of course, she was right.

Exactly at 9 am, Cindy and Sophia, our first two volunteers, arrived. They were soon followed by 2 others, then 4, then 6 and more. So many generous members of our community left the warmth of their homes to help us pack the food. So many, in fact, that we finished our task 30 minutes earlier than expected.

At 11, right on schedule, the first representative from the organizations we support arrived to collect the baskets, and as the day progressed, everything was distributed despite the weather and my worrying.

It was a morning that made us very proud to be part of such a giving and compassionate community of people. In my opinion, it was one of Cedar Park's finest hours

To every volunteer who braved the weather to help others, Joanne and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We also thank the representatives of our sponsored organizations who, themselves, defied the storm to pick up the baskets so that those in need would have a holiday meal.   A special note of appreciation goes to the Philadelphia Credit Union, Trader Joe’s, Shoprite, Fresh Grocer, Senator Anthony Williams and Yaya, fruit and vegetable vendor extraordinaire, for their generous donations.

We thank every single person who donated to the project and would like to let you know that you fed 637 of your neighbors this Christmas.

The snow of that day has long since melted and Christmas has come and gone, but the kindness and good that was demonstrated by our community is a gift that will be remembered throughout the year.