Scranton Thanksgiving Tradition Gets New Leadership

SCRANTON -- It may feel way too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, but an effort that feeds about 15,000 people during the Thanksgiving holiday had its start Tuesday with a someone new at the helm.

The Thanksgiving community program in Scranton has fed close to half a million people in its four decades with the annual Friends of the Poor dinner and the Family to Family Thanksgiving food basket giveaway.

Friends of the Poor introduced its new president and CEO on Tuesday. This year, the organization started by nuns has its first layperson leading the charge: Meghan Loftus of Dunmore.

"It really isn't a religious thing," said Loftus. "We don't discriminate on the basis of religion, but it's our values and our ethics raised as Catholics that prompt us to do this. That's really the match there."

The previous president, Sister Ann Walsh, will stay on as an assistant.

"We are so blessed to have her," Sister Ann Walsh said. "She rose up to be the person to be our successor and our first lay leader, so she comes with good experience, great education, but most importantly, with a passion for our mission and our ministry."

The Robeson family from Scranton will continue to lead the Family to Family program. The Thanksgiving charities have more millennial influence than ever before.

And the new leaders say they plan to assure the programs never go away.

"We have a lot of people who have been coming to the same program for 50 years and bringing their kids and everything, but I think it's time for our generation to step up and start coming as well," said Ryan Robeson.

Tuesday's kickoff event starts the Thanksgiving community program's fundraising efforts. They're in need of money and donations of food. Click here to help the Family to Family Thanksgiving program.