On a typical day, CPO serves about 110 families. During the week of Thanksgiving, however, those numbers almost double.
It’s all part of the excitement of the holiday and clients in need who wish to prepare a meal for their families.
“Yesterday we served 201 families,” said Terry Foley, director of Catholic Parish Outreach in Raleigh, on Nov. 22. “Thankfully those numbers are down a bit from last year. We went up dramatically during the recession, and our numbers have gone down some and are leveling off, thank goodness.”
She said that the food pantry, which is located in Raleigh and part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, gives clients frozen meat and about a week’s worth of groceries.
“It does help them provide a really nice meal for Thanksgiving. Everyone’s mood is festive. It’s a time to focus on family,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without all of our community partners who come together to make this happen … every day, not just at the holidays. We are feeding people six days a week all year. And … we’re providing hospitality to them while they are here. This is a family for us … staff, clients and volunteers.”
Volunteers Jim and Diane Cichetti are part of that family and have been helping at CPO for nearly four decades. This is their ninth year assisting during Thanksgiving week.
“The clients are always very receptive … very thankful,” Mr. Cichetti said. “The mood here inside is a lot busier [than an average day] because we are feeding more families. We have fun.”
His wife added that it’s a grace to be able to help people in need. “So many people are hungry,” she said.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was a part of the volunteer team on Tuesday, Nov. 22. He arrived at CPO with 520 pounds of food, which was donated by Catholic Center staff and blessed during a special Mass celebrated the day before. He prayed with volunteers before the three-hour shift and thanked them for being an inspiration to him and others.
Speaking to volunteers, Bishop Burbidge said, “I just want to thank you for this day where so many people are helped and assisted. I know so many of you do this on a regular basis … thank you for your faithful witness, generosity and compassion, and for reminding all of us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for the Lord.”
How to Help
Visit cporaleigh.org to volunteer and/or donate.