SCRANTON -- For decades many of you have helped with the WNEP-TV Feed a Friend program and on Tuesday more families than ever got help at one Feed a Friend giveaway in Scranton.
The United Neighborhood Centers gave out turkeys and all the fixings for thanksgiving dinner to 1,700 families. Many of those moms and dads were getting help for the first time.
After 33 years, the United Neighborhood Centers has quite an efficient system for handing out all the food needed for Thanksgiving. But never before has the Feed a Friend program fed so many families here in Scranton: 1,700, that's 300 more families than last year. And nearly 25 percent are getting help for the first time.
"It's hard working, there's no work around. It's hard finding a job,” said Sean Strackbein of Olyphant.
Stackbein has never been here before. He has two kids; everyone getting help must have children.
For him, this is a big help in a tough year.
"It's like really, really good, to help us out, to be alright, to have a happy Thanksgiving."
Kira Vonronn certainly appreciates it, too. The mother of two says there are a lot of tough decisions in her household right now.
"It's very hard, this means a lot because we budget our money as we can and sometimes food comes second to putting a roof over our kids heads."
Despite the increased need this year, there is enough food for all the families needing help, but United Neighborhood Centers needs some help to pay all this off. They're still looking for donations.
"It's very difficult in some cases to listen to stories of people as they walk through the door. We see their gratitude and they're so thankful to get this assistance from the community,” said Jill Moyle of United Neighborhood Centers.
The people at United Neighborhood Centers buy most of the food with Feed a Friend donations. They are still short of their $30,000 goal.
But this effort isn't just about the money. It's about dozens of volunteers who make this go smoothly.
Andre Parks is one of them. He used to be coming here for help.
"They helped me in the past as far as being homeless, hungry and other necessities that I needed in life and this is my way of giving back and being thankful,” Parks said.
United Neighborhood Centers also had a Feed a Friend Thanksgiving basket giveaway in Carbondale to serve families there. UNC says it costs them $35 per family to get all the Thanksgiving food.