AREA NEWSThe White Plains Examiner

Food, Clothing and Shelter Major Items on Santa’s Wish List

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By Pat Casey

The White Plains Youth Bureau, in cooperation with several local businesses and community groups, was able to feed 87 White Plains families this Thanksgiving. The annual food drive, which provides each family with a turkey and all the fixings for a complete dinner, has been feeding a steadily growing number of White Plains families in recent years.

Patricia Staffiero, a spokesperson for the Youth Bureau, told The White Plains Examiner that families chosen to receive help are nominated by members of the school district and other community service providers. “These families not only receive Thanksgiving food baskets, but requests for clothing, toys and other items will be filled at Christmas,” Staffiero said. She further noted that not all donors involved in the Thanksgiving food drive are able to continue throughout the season and that even though 87 families were initially identified, more families and children are usually added to the list as the season progresses. “We keep it open for donations to continue,” she said.

For example, Staffiero is expecting well over 100 toys to be donated by the Hillair Circle Neighborhood Association, something the association does each year.

Unwrapped gifts of toys, clothing, hats, mittens, scarves, anything new for a child aged 6 to 15, will be accepted until December 12. Staffiero said the Youth Bureau also accepts gift cards. The cards are used to purchase specific items that children need, which may not come in through the regular donations.

Staffiero offered a special thank you to the team at Webster Bank for their ongoing support of Youth Bureau programs. As a major contributor to the Thanksgiving Food Drive, Webster Bank is also working with the Youth Bureau to collect and distribute 100 new coats to deserving children. These coats will be distributed at a special event on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Eastview Middle School.

Maria Freburg, Vice President and Market Manager, Westchester County, for Webster Bank, is working with Staffiero. “We want to make White Plains a better place for the youth of the city,” she said, adding “What a difference to one child a winter coat can make.”

Webster is also collecting items for a toy drive for Abbott House and is working with the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless to collect nonperishable food items. That drive, is open through December 31.

Freburg cited the increasing need for food, shelter and clothing in Westchester County as an indicator of the disparity of wealth in the region. “Westchester is such a rich community that people don’t realize how much need there is,” she said. “There is more poverty in Westchester than in any other area in the tri-state region, outside of New York City.”

That sentiment has been echoed throughout the area, as food pantries, homeless shelters serving individuals and families, and government agencies supplying medical and food stamp services have seen a steady rise in their number of clients.

Statistics posted on the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless website indicate that many people facing need have come from the dwindling middle class. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene, the ice storm this fall and continuing unemployment have put many people at risk.

This September, the last month reported on the New York State government website as this issue went to press, over 3 million people (an increase of 17,083 over August), representing 1.6 million households in New York State received food stamps. Of that total, 76,105 individuals, representing 41,693, households were located in Westchester County. New York City represented the lion’s share with 1.8 million people, representing 1 million households.

Further statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that 14.5 percent of all U.S. households are food insecure, meaning the food intake of one or more members of the household was reduced or their eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money or other resources for food.

There are many organizations providing food and shelter this holiday season and beyond. If you wish to donate to or inquire about White Plains Youth Bureau programs, Patricia Staffiero or Catherine Baches can be reached at (914)422-1378. Webster Bank branches throughout Westchester County will accept donations of nonperishable foods through December 31.


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