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Happier holidays: Library collects donations for Bethesda Mission food drive

Wednesday November 9th, 2022

Food DriveThe Library feeds minds and souls, but this holiday season, it is also feeding bellies by participating in the Bethesda Mission’s cherished annual food drive.

“The Library is committed to meeting the community’s needs, and the most basic of those needs is ensuring people have enough to eat,’’ said Dauphin County Library System Executive Director Karen Cullings. “We’re opening our doors not just for people hungry for knowledge but for members and visitors who want to help feed those who may otherwise be hunger over the holidays.’’ 

Bethesda Mission’s comprehensive services address a wide range of community needs, including housing, medical and dental care, street ministries, afterschool programming, and a food bank. Since at least the 1990s, Bethesda Mission’s food drive has ensured that local families in hardship still enjoy traditional holiday meals.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of the community and the donors and volunteers,” says Bethesda Mission Event/Volunteer Coordinator Kristina Depew. “Whether it be for the food drive or any of our events, we wouldn’t be able to do anything throughout the year without that community support, that caring.

Through December 15, The Library is hosting food collection bins at all of their locations throughout Dauphin County. Because of a special community relationship, the items collected at the William H. & Marion C. Alexander Family Library will be donated to the Hummelstown Food Pantry. 

Suggested donations include:

  • Canned green beans, corn, yams, and gravy
  • Boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce and fruit cocktail
  • Pasta and rice
  • Condiments

Anyone wishing to donate turkeys or hams should take them to Bethesda Mission’s location at 611 Reilly Street, Harrisburg. Financial donations to help the Mission buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy can be made by visiting www.bethesdamission.org

Bethesda Mission compiles the donations into holiday food bags of meals for four – turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas, and both with all the traditional fixings. Local churches, which are also part of the drive, distribute the meals to needy families.

Any donations not earmarked for traditional holiday meals certainly go to good use. Bethesda Mission partner Central Pennsylvania Food Bank helps sort the donations. Non-holiday foods can supply meals at Bethesda Mission’s men’s and women’s missions or be designated for the Food Bank warehouse for distribution to families, organizations, and food pantries throughout the year.

Food DriveThis year’s goal is to collect 150,000 pounds of food, for about 500 bags distributed per holiday.

“We haven’t had a bad review!” says Depew. “Everybody involved at the churches say those who receive the meals are extremely grateful and happy when they’re able to provide their families with a meal for the holidays because of the generosity of our donors.”

As Cullings notes, the partnership with Bethesda Mission is a natural fit. The Library, including the newly expanded and renovated McCormick Riverfront Library, serves as an accessible resource for people throughout Dauphin County who may be unhoused, striving for self-sufficiency, or searching for educational enrichment for their children.

“We are thrilled to give The Library community this chance to help put festive meals on the tables of hundreds of local families,’’ said Cullings. “Our members’ generosity means more families will enjoy the holidays surrounded by loved ones and look toward the new year with hope.”

For hours at a Library near you, visit www.dcls.org. For more information on the food drive, visit www.bethesdamission.org/event/food-drive  

Christina Lauver
Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >