Helping Fill Tables for the Holidays


GREAT BEND – Hundreds turned out to the United Methodist Church in Great Bend Thursday, happy to be getting some extra holiday help.  More than six tons of food was distributed, just in time to help make ends meet before Christmas.

Stacks of canned goods, fresh meat, tasty desserts – it’s a holiday feast Shirley Norton of Lawsville is glad to be taking home for her family just in time for the holiday.  It’s food she can’t go without.

“It would be a lot harder. My husband’s been out of work, so it’s been really hard. He’s had a health issue, and just to know that we can come here and get this extra food, it’s great,” said Norton.

All of this food comes from the Weinberg Food Bank, feeding about 200 families here in Susquehanna County.  Brenda Ahlbrant says she relies on the food each month to help feed her great nephew and the rest of her family.

“It helps, thank God for it,” said Ahlbrant of Great Bend.

Organizers here at the United Methodist Church say December typically is a busier month than most.

“Very much so, and with the heating bills and everything else, this is the month they really need the food,” said staff member Bob Emerson.

Of the about seven tons of food being boxed up and passed out here in Susquehanna County, some of it is even going home with these volunteers, helping those who are helping out.

77-year-old volunteer Gary Balanis of Great Bend takes home some food for him and his wife, but he enjoys helping pass it out to others even more.

“Really it’s a labor of love, and I’m naive enough to think somebody will do it for me some day,” said Balanis.

It’s people like Balanis and the about 40 other volunteers that give people like Joseph Ivens of Hallstead hope while continuing to look for work.

“There’s good people out there and people that are more willing to help people that have less, and if we didn’t have that in this world, then it’d be a lot tougher,” said Ivens of Hallstead.

If you live in Susquehanna County and would like to register for this food bank, you can contact the United Methodist Church at (570) 879-4506.

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