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GIVING BACK: Food drive feeds Lake Placid families for Thanksgiving

November 23, 2017
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Dozens of volunteers gathered in the basement of the St. Agnes Church Monday, Nov. 20, filling boxes and bags with bread, stuffing, cans of green beans and corn, potatoes and, of course, turkey for the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry's annual Thanksgiving food drive for needy families.

The whole operation was efficient and effective; it looked like something out an early 20th century Ford factory. Everyone worked in an assembly-line fashion, filling their boxes with one food item and then moving on to the next.

One man stood in the back quickly folding boxes. A woman stacked cases of canned goods on top each other. Another woman piled bags of sliced bread on a table. Outside, people in wool hats and thick gloves stood in the back of a delivery van, handing out turkeys and pies to families who needed them. A pickup truck next to the van had its whole flatbed filled to the brim with bags of potatoes.

Article Photos

Volunteers hand out plenty of turkeys, pies and potatoes Monday, Nov. 20 at the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry, located at St. Agnes Church.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

The snow and wind may have been cold, but the volunteers had warmth in their hearts.

Every year, generous people from the Tri-Lakes region donate their time and services to the Ecumenical Food Pantry and provide food and warm outer wear to needy families.

The director of the food pantry, Linda Young, said, "It's a way to come together and do some good will."

Young was in charge of the food drive. If any of the volunteers had a question, they would come to her. If they were running low on a certain food, they would come to her.

"She's a miracle worker," said one of the volunteers, walking by with a box of food.

"Oh please," Young said, "It's a group effort. We all work together to make it happen."

Young has been involved with the food pantry and the church since 1985. Over the years she's seen that the demand for giving food and clothing has increased but so has the number of volunteers.

"People that need it, come," Young said, "It's great to see people that have never volunteered before come and help out for the first time."

The volunteers never stopped moving. There was always something that needed to be done. Whether it was restocking foods, folding boxes or even just making another pot of coffee, somebody was there to help out. The dedication displayed showed that people in Lake Placid truly care for their community.

One of the volunteers, Katie Burn, said, "It's a great activity for the community to come together."

Compared to the food drive, Young said her Thanksgiving that she spends with her family is rather "quiet."

"This is the big day," Young said. "It's a very rewarding experience, but it requires a good amount of passion."

The Rev. John Yonkovig of St. Agnes Church described Young as "selfless woman with great credibility and integrity." He said he loves the Thanksgiving food drive for two main reasons.

"Many, many needy families that are often unseen or hidden finally get the help they need," Yonkovig said, "and it raises the consciousness of folks in the community."

Although it takes place in the basement of the St. Agnes Church, the food drive is part of the Ecumenical Food Pantry, meaning that people from multiple religious denominations and those who don't belong to any faith come and help out and are served.

When Yonkovig sees how many people volunteer at the food drive, he is deeply moved.

"Just a lot of good people help out," Yonkovig said. "You don't even have to ask twice."

The food drive can't come to fruition through helping hands alone. Yonkovig said they rely on a good amount of contributions.

"Some people may not be able to make it to volunteer," Yonkovig said, "but they donate very generously."

It can take a lot of strength to ask for help, especially around the holiday season. Yonkovig said all the people who come in need of food and warm clothing greatly appreciate the help.

"The people who receive the food are deeply grateful," he said. "No one feels entitled to any of the food or clothes donated."

The donations and community outreach don't stop at Thanksgiving. The food pantry is open every Friday, and they will be conducting at Christmas Day dinner at Mr. Mike's Pizza in downtown Lake Placid. Much of the clothing work they do is in conjunction with Helping Hands Thrift Shop.Without this type of community service in Lake Placid, many families would go hungry and cold through these winter months.

Young said she has been doing this type of work for 32 years because helping others it pretty much written in her DNA.

"It's something I do automatically," Young said, "and feel compelled to do it."



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