Local group still seeking donations for meal baskets

The Riverdale-based, non-profit organization, Hearts to Nourish Hope, Inc., will give out 350 meal baskets to needy families this Christmas, but the organization's leaders are hoping the holiday spirit will encourage community members to help pay for the baskets.

The baskets, which cost the community assistance and youth empowerment organization $25, each, to assemble, will include a meal for a needy family to eat on Christmas day, said Hearts to Nourish Hope, Inc., Executive Director Deborah Anglin.

She added that, although the group gives out meal baskets to needy families throughout the year, Tuesday will be the last day people can make a donation to help pay for a Christmas meal. The organization is asking people to give at least $25, Anglin said.

"What that $25 donation buys is, it allows us to put together a Christmas meal for a needy family, plus enough food to get them through four more days," Anglin said. "In other words, it's enough food to last nearly a week."

Anglin said she and other volunteers from the organization are hoping to raise $2,000 to help pay for the baskets. So far, she said, the group has received "$200 to $300" in donations.

Since the baskets cost $25 to assemble, it means it will cost Hearts to Nourish Hope, Inc., $8,750 to assemble the 350 meal baskets. The group will assemble that many baskets, because that is how many needy families have requested baskets this month, Anglin said.

She said the organization received the same number of requests for meal baskets in November. Anglin said she buys the food for the baskets from local food panties.

According to the organization's executive director, the meal baskets allow a needy family to divert money that normally would have been spent on nearly a week's worth of groceries to other living expenses, such as transportation, or utility bills.

"They can use that extra money to put gas in their car, so they can go to work during that week, or they can use it to pay their utilities, so the lights don't go out in their home," Anglin said.

With the recent downturn in the national and local economies, Anglin said her organization is seeing more people needing assistance.

"Normally, people could come every 30 days to get food from our pantry, but because we have so many families seeking assistance, I have to tell them they are only allowed to buy food from us once every 60 days," she said.

To make a donation to help pay for the meal baskets, people can call Hearts to Nourish Hope, Inc., at (770) 977-4517, or stop by its offices at 345 Scott Road, in Riverdale.