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Sussex's heart grows with community's need

Residents donated nearly $3,000 to help buy Christmas meals

Dec. 15, 2009

The Sussex community has stepped up to help its neighbors by donating nearly $3,000 to the Sussex Lions Club to help purchase Christmas meals for those in need this holiday season.

The Lions manned stations at the Sussex Pick 'n Save and Piggly Wiggly on Saturday to ask for both monetary donations to buy meals as well as food donations for the pantry. The Sussex Sun is contributing $500 to this effort through its annual Yule Feed Families food drive. Each year, the Sun pledges to match 70 cents on the dollar and 40 cents per food item donated, up to $500.

Sussex Lions member John Haunfelder, who is the lead for the Lions on this effort, said the generosity of the Sussex community never ceases to amaze him.

"It seems like the harder things get, people are more generous. It really brought on a warm feeling, and we had a good time Saturday," Haunfelder said.

Sussex Food Pantry Coordinator Christina Hartwig said Tuesday that more than 260 families had signed up to receive Christmas meals. One-hundred of the meals will be provided thanks to an anonymous donor, Haunfelder added.

Hartwig, who has been with the pantry for three years, said the pantry is seeing two to three new clients each of the three days the pantry is open during the week; she noted that 221 meals were distributed last year.

"It's really nice to know we can count on the Lions. It's just nice to know they're there," Hartwig said of the meal program.

She also said that despite the poor economy, the greater Sussex community is aware of the need and has stepped up to help accommodate it. She wanted to thank to donors.

"You would think that donations would be down due to the economy being the way it is, but I think in spite of that, people that are able to give are giving more just for that reason … and we thank you even more," she said.

In all, Haunfelder said $1,943.39 in cash was donated at the two stores Saturday. Another $375 in checks was donated; adding the $500 from the Sussex Sun, the total collected comes to $2,818.39.

Haunfelder estimated that the total could exceed what would be needed to purchase the Christmas meals; the extra amount would be put in an account at the Piggly Wiggly for the food pantry to purchase items it needs. He added that two to three shopping carts of food, diapers and miscellaneous items were collected Saturday.

"It's always been that way," Haunfelder said of the community's generosity.

The Lions will soon purchase the meals and later distribute them to the families at St. James.

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