Penn State

Penn State students deliver Thanksgiving meals to families in need

Matt Barone, far right, of Penn State Students Engaging Students, delivers 15 baskets full of food to Interfaith Human Services as part of the student organization’s annual Thanksgiving basket drive. The student organization delivered more than 350 baskets this year to Centre County nonprofits for the low-income families they support.
Matt Barone, far right, of Penn State Students Engaging Students, delivers 15 baskets full of food to Interfaith Human Services as part of the student organization’s annual Thanksgiving basket drive. The student organization delivered more than 350 baskets this year to Centre County nonprofits for the low-income families they support. Photo provided

They filled their baskets with goodies and headed out to deliver them.

These Penn State students weren’t so much Little Red Riding Hood as they were Good Samaritans. The baskets were headed to help people in need.

Penn State Students Engaging Students has been providing this service for years. In 2015, they put together 350 baskets filled with Thanksgiving dinner fixings for families that might not have the money for a turkey. In 2016, it was 430 baskets.

In 2017, it was again 350.

Some of those baskets went to the Interfaith Human Services office, where 15 families were identified to receive that added help.

“There’s a gift card for a turkey. There’s stuffing, stuff for pies, cranberry sauce,” said IHS Executive Director Wendy Vinhage. “That’s why the basket is so huge.”

This is no picnic basket. In fact, sometimes basket isn’t even the right word. Sometimes dinner is packed in a laundry basket. Sometimes it’s a plastic storage bin.

But it’s what you can’t see in there that makes it special. It really is the thought that counts, Vinhage said.

“It’s really important. A lot of the clients we work with have limited income, or health disabilities. This is a huge deal for them,” she said. “It is just a nice gesture for people who don’t get gifts often. This isn’t just food. It’s something that makes them realize they aren’t being forgotten.”

Penn State Students Engaging Students’ vision is to foster leadership through community service. Vinhage said she believed the students get as much out of it as the families.

“They’re just so happy. I think it means a lot to them to give back. They’re just so excited when they come,” she said.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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