Philly community comes together to help each other

- It’s the kind of dread only a mother can feel, wondering if she has enough to feed her family and trying to make whatever’s left last.

“I was home trying to make the food I got stretch,” said nursing student Kenneisha Saunders.

Saunders got a reprieve, though, on Saturday.

“I have four children. Anything will help,” Saunders said.

The reprieve was a food drive at the 39th Philadelphia Police District. Clergy members, business owners and police all came together to help.

“The food I got at home and this food will last until Tuesday,” Saunders explained.

Community Relations Officer Joe Lukaitis helped found the now yearly event. Poverty hits close to home for him. Growing up, he knew when his mom was stretching potatoes into pancakes to come up with yet another meal.

“We’ve been bonding for years with the 39th District and the community, but we’re showing them that we care. We’re not just here as the police, but we’re here for their other needs,” Officer Lukaitis explained.

Business owner Steve Tiang donates some of the items. He says he sees some of his own customers in the faces stopping by.

“We do business inside the community so we want to give back to the community as well,” Tiang said.

“They are not a forgotten community anymore. We want to help them serve them at the district,” Reverend Pamela McDuffie, with the 39th District, said.

Those are not just words, but March 17 they were actions. Actions that helped a young mom who takes the bus two hours each way to nursing school feel secure in knowing her children’s bellies will be full for one more week.

“I’m grateful. I’m humble,” Saunders said.

The food drive took months of planning and dozens of volunteers. But, in a few short hours, bags of food were given to hundreds of people. The 39th Police District hopes to make this more than a yearly event. They want to set up a permanent station outside where people can come get the food they need.
 

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