Thanks to the late Maria Kenny, a mountain of food and much merrier Christmas awaits 70 local families who are down on their luck.
After her death in 2014, her four children—Tim, John, Rhonda and Mike—picked up the torch and carried on the tradition started years ago by the beloved Thorold school teacher.
In memory of their mother—whose birthday falls within Christmas week—the four Kenny siblings and their families celebrate the occasion by donating enough food to ensure that no Thorold family has to face the bleak prospect of being hungry during the holidays.
As early as October, the Kenny clan scours stores for sales, purchasing and stockpiling non-perishable goods to feed 70 families who have registered for help at Community Care.
Closer to Christmas, the siblings add fresh produce to the bounty.
Hank Andrulis is a friend of the Kenny family and member of St. Vincent de Paul, and has contributed considerably toward this year’s cause, stated Rhonda.
“One hundred per cent of all money donated goes to food,” added John, “and if anybody would like to donate next year, get in touch with a family member.”
After collecting donations from family and friends and completing the shopping, the Kennys load up all their vehicles and haul the food to Holy Rosary Church Hall, where it’s separated and packaged into identical boxes for families.
Albert Ciamarra, a volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus organizations—both of which have headquarters at Holy Rosary Church Hall, refers to the group as the “Maria Kenny army.”
“Seventy people get a cash voucher from Community Care for a turkey,” said Ciamarra, adding that the Catholic Women’s League will see to it that every family with children receives toys.
This Saturday morning, each registered family will leave the hall with a hefty box containing hearty breakfast foods like instant oatmeal, pancake mix, juice, syrup, jars of peanut butter and jam, as well as pasta, tomato sauce, canned vegetables and beans, stuffing mix, soups, tuna, crackers, paper products and treats—potato chips and cookies.
In addition, they’ll receive a box of clementine oranges, along with bags of apples, carrots, and potatoes, courtesy of the Kennys.
According to Ciamarra, who volunteers year-round to assist the poverty-stricken at the church hall, for those who don’t come in cars, their loads will be so large, “We might have to give them a ride home.”