Volunteers with People in Need of Delaware have been putting in long hours preparing for the annual Holiday Clearing House event that is held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The program provides gifts and food to families, seniors and home bounds.
“We’ll probably pack up around 20,000 and some odd meals in about 2 hours on Saturday,” said Kevin Crowley, People in Need executive director. “This place will be hopping.”
Cowley said some of the meals will be delivered to seniors in the community who are not able to get out to pick up meals.
He said on Sunday the group of volunteers will have 29 families come through every half hour without a break. He said families that do come through are given an appointment and a number so they can remain anonymous.
Crowley said there will be seating and refreshments available. Curtains will be hung and the coliseum will be decorated.
“It will look so different come Sunday morning before the first family comes in. You won’t even recognize this place,” Crowley said. “Saturday night I’ll stand up in the balcony and look out over the floor with wonder.”
Crowley wants to make sure that everyone is treated with dignity from the first family through the line to the last.
“The last group that comes in at 4 o’ clock,” Crowley said, “I want them to have the same choice of toys as the first group that went through.”
The event goes from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“We just call them up and we have people help them people navigate through the whole system,” Crowley said. “There’s more than a thousand kids this year. Every one of them will have a wrapped gift that has been donated by the churches or the area businesses.
Crowley is confident that when Sunday arrives it will operate seamlessly.
“Volunteers will come in to work a two-hour shift,” he said. “That way I have fresh people all day.”
Crowley said there are no youngsters involved on Sunday except for youth groups who will help carry items to cars.
Tisha Peyton said she started volunteering with People in Need when she was in high school. “This is my 17th year,” she said.
“She’s now got a family and a career, but still takes vacation time to come and be my foreman,” Crowley said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.