Charity brightens Easter celebrations
Water Street hands out hams, groceries Charity brightens Easter celebrations BY JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
Crystal Williams dreams of being a chef.
But the 38-year-old Lancaster woman is grateful this weekend just to be able to put Easter dinner on the table for her five kids.
Williams walked two blocks to the Water Street Ministries campus Friday to pick up the raw materials.
Volunteers in the mission's Outreach Building handed out hams and other groceries.
Recipients view the mission's annual Easter food box distribution as a great gift.
Before the start of the three-hour giveaway at 9 a.m., more than 50 people were waiting outside the Outreach Building on South Prince Street.
By 8 a.m., said Maria Schaszberger, the charity's spokeswoman, the line already wound around the corner and onto Conestoga Street.
Mayra Lopez was sitting on her folding chair near the back of the line. "We're blessed with this" food, the 38-year-old Lancaster resident said. "We're real blessed."
Nancy Lewis, 63, said the program helps older people like her, who are on fixed incomes.
They make "too much to qualify for food stamps, but not enough to make it all the way through," she said.
Fifty-four-year-old Joan Kautz said she often spends Easter with her older sister's family in Ephrata.
But her sister is now undergoing chemotherapy.
"It was difficult this year," Kautz said. "Everything was tighter and harder. Thank God there's a place for people to go."
Kautz, who was clutching an ID card and a blue admission card, signed up for her Easter food box last week.
Recipients were asked only to provide proof of county residency, according to Schaszberger, who said the program started about five years ago.
"Today is the culmination of a weeklong distribution" of food for Easter meals that will feed more than 300 families, Schaszberger said Friday.
Local churches partnered in the effort.
An Easter banquet for the homeless will be held today at noon at the mission's dining hall at 210 S. Prince St.
"Everything is provided through donations," said Schaszberger, who calculated that "more than a ton of ham" was given out through the week.
Food bank items are available throughout the year, said the mission's new president, the Rev. Charles Parker, who was greeting and praying with visitors in the Outreach Building.
"Lancaster cares about people struggling. Volunteers come down and give of themselves freely," Parker said.
On Friday morning, groups of people filed through the building in pulses, picking up cans of fruit, vegetables and soup, instant and fresh potatoes, cereal, apple butter, desserts, bread and small baskets containing wrapped-up chocolate candies.
And, of course, Easter ham.
Junior Lozano, Ephrata, said he was planning to cook it all for his parents.
Sandra Young, 67, gratefully filled a small grocery cart she had wheeled from her Fremont Street home but said she was especially happy with "the meat and stuff and the cereal."
"I've got to feed eight people," Young added. "We'll probably have leftovers, unless my granddaughter eats it all."
Crystal Williams, the mother of five, said she hopes to eventually pay forward people's generosity.
She plans to study culinary arts at YTI Career Institute once her 11-month old son, Anthony, gets a little older.
"Maybe one day I could be one of the people on the other side" of the counter, giving out food, Williams mused. "That would be a great thing."