By Jennifer L Warren
NEWBURGH – It’s referred to as a miracle.
As the Bible tale goes: A huge faction of hungry, distraught people were following Jesus.
Somehow, they encountered a boy with food- two loaves of bread and five fish-somehow along the way- allowing for 5000 people to be fed. In that very inspiring spirit, the namesake: Newburgh Loaves & Fishes Inc. was created 25 years ago. The popular, annual food distribution event has been regularly and lovingly supplying all the fixings for Thanksgiving meals to Newburgh area residents.
Once again that full community effort delivered huge blessings Saturday, providing “gift baskets” of holiday culinary items, to 967 families. Whether it was monetary contributions from local churches and individuals or food drop-offs from Stewart’s Shop Organization, along with countless organizations, or the “excellence” of purchase transactions made at Hannafords in New Windsor and Restaurant Depot in Newburgh, the result was an impressive, inviting, and well organized food ensemble of 12 pound turkeys (along with many, embraced chicken options this year), gravy, potatoes, canned vegetables, beans, rice, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, stuffing mix and fruit covering tables inside and outside the Deacon Jack Food Pantry at the Sacred Heart School, located on Ann Street in the City of Newburgh. Guests were able to select preferred items, while positively interacting with smiling volunteers, who had tirelessly spent several hours Friday afternoon stocking the shelves and tables in preparation for the incredibly successful- well received event.
“It was an amazing, rewarding and faith-filled event to be a part of,” said Ava Marsich, Community Outreach Worker for the Orange County Department of Health. “In just a few hours, close to 1,000 families received all the essentials for a proper Thanksgiving meal, taking away the costly burden of food and allowing families to enjoy the holidays, stress- free; God always provides.”
That incredible efficiency is credited each year to the wide range of organizations merging together for this integral cause. In addition to the monetary and food assistance, Bruderhof students lent a “tremendous hand,” with set up duties on Friday; while Health First contributed 1,000 bags to residents to take their turkey or chickens home, and the Franciscan Friars were also on hand outdoors, distributing, much-welcomed soothing hot chocolate during the morning hours of the rainy, cool Saturday. It’s that beautiful, united effort, aimed at a common cause: Helping secure people with what they need during the holiday season that truly distinguishes this long-standing event.
“The most positive thing about Loaves & Fishes Inc. is how we all work together and are dedicated to the same purpose, making sure people can get food, so they can have Thanksgiving in their own homes,” said Irma Bahr-Madrid, President of Loaves & Fishes, who has been involved with the organization for the past 10 years. “This year was special for the 25th anniversary; also, people were happy to have a chicken choice for the first time, and this year we were given so much food, over 600 bags, which has not been the case the last few years.” The very pleased Bahr-Madrid added, “The weather also really turned out well, with the sun coming out later in the morning, the people were wonderful-very patient and appreciative- and things just went very smoothly overall.”