By Alberto Gilman
On the morning of Friday, November 18, residents and community members made their way to the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on South William Street to partake in the St. Mary’s Outreach November Giving Day which offered fresh food and produce, donated items and essentials to those in need.
The gates to the Giving Day opened at nine in the morning with people using carts and carrying bags to collect food and other necessities. Marietta Allen, Director of St. Mary’s Outreach, oversaw the operation from her station, guiding her volunteers, speaking with community members and overseeing the registration process. According to Allen, 40 to 50 volunteers along with members of the Orange County Health and Probation Departments assisted in the Giving Day. “We’re gonna have a record setting crowd, I think. I’m looking at probably at least 400 families,” said Allen.
Allen said any form of monetary donation is greatly appreciated. Checks can be sent to her office at Allen Associates located at 1229 Route 300, Newburgh, NY, 12550. Looking at what was going on around, Allen reflected briefly on the work that she has been doing for the past 17 years. “I started the ministry for God. He gives you energy when you need it and he gives you strength when you need it. He gives you volunteers when you need it, he gives you food when you need it and he touches people’s hearts when it’s time to send a donation.”
Several guests who appeared at the Giving Day included William Kaplan, Mayor Joseph D’Onofrio of Highland Falls and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson.
“This is such an incredible operation, seems to get larger every year as far as what they’re able to do and give out. Unfortunately, the need has increased as well. But they’re doing a great job,” Jacobson said. “We should try to reach out and help those that do not have as much as we do.”
During the course of the morning, families and individuals went around various tables and collected turkeys for the holiday, fresh produce, pork, eggs, chicken, hams, fish and fruits and vegetables. Baby food, beauty items, candy and other small items were available for pickup along the line. Once concluded on the food line, families and individuals went to other tables that had shoes, donated coats, housewares and other home necessities.
First time volunteer Deanna Olenick, who helped distribute some candy at her table, shared her thoughts on the drive during the morning. She planned to return for the next Giving Day in December.
“It’s a lot to take in, you know. I know times are tough for a lot of people. But you just got to thank God you wake up every morning, and just keep going and keep going and keep going,” said Olenick.
Giving Day Volunteer Tara Fletcher along with her fiance Richard Kyles had been at the center since six that morning and helped distribute food and assist other community members however they could.
“People who live in the City of Newburgh and surrounding areas, if they have transportation, are all welcome here. Nobody is turned away. I have run into so many volunteers here today who were once in that place of need years ago, months ago, days ago, who are now out here volunteering their time, for other people. And I think that has just been something to make you feel wonderful inside and God is good,” said Fletcher. “Giving back is especially important to myself and my fiance, especially because we were, for a long time, in the same position. We have a lot of gratitude.”
St. Mary’s Outreach will be hosting Giving Days every third Friday of the month. The next Giving Day will be on December 16.