- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

Volunteers arrived early yesterday at food pantries around the District and worked through much of the cold, gray afternoon to bring Thanksgiving food to their less-fortunate neighbors.
At Food & Friends, a charity in Southeast, staff members and volunteers were putting the finishing touches on 3,000 dinners to deliver to clients with HIV or AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses.
Group members have been planning the dinners for two months while maintaining their regular weekly schedules of meal and grocery deliveries and nutrition counseling. On Tuesday, their kitchen was piled high with roasted turkeys and containers of sweet potatoes, buttered corn and other Thanksgiving trimmings.
"Our standard for our food is: If it's not good enough for our own tables, our own families, it's not good enough for our clients," said Craig M. Shniderman, executive director of the District-based charity, which operates with about $5 million in annual donations.
As with many charities, donations at Food & Friends cannot keep pace with an increasing number of clients.
Walking through the kitchen that was packed with 6,500 pounds of turkey, 110 gallons of gravy and 1,500 pies, Mr. Shniderman said giving money to the sick and poor is not enough.
He said distributing entire meals allows clients to host Thanksgiving dinners for their families and friends.
Jeffrey, a Food & Friends client who has AIDS, said he can depend on family during hard times, but he appreciates not having to burden them on holidays.
"I'm just so amazed to this day," he said. "Once I get on my feet, all my donations are going to them."
Phyllis Freedman, who began volunteering at Food & Friends about 10 years ago, after her brother died of AIDS, helped the group meet the growing demand from 2,000 to 3,000 clients in the last year by bringing co-workers yesterday to help prepare and deliver the Thanksgiving meals.
"As Americans and Washingtonians, we have so much," she said. "And at this time of year, it brings into focus those who do not."
The 25th annual Thanksgiving food drive at Archbishop Carroll High School in Northeast brought in more than 45,000 pounds of food for people in need.
Though many of the donations were canned and boxed goods collected by students who went door to door in their neighborhoods during the past week, the small mountain of food in the school's lobby yesterday included more than 200 turkeys.
One man donated a truckload of 155 turkeys, said Judith Anderson, a food-drive organizer.
Mrs. Anderson said the donation was a surprise because families gave a little less this year compared with last year. However, the students worked overtime and eclipsed last year's record by 1,000 pounds of food.
"For me, this is a statement of my Christian faith," said Mrs. Anderson, a librarian at Archbishop Carroll since 1989. "I think Jesus' gospel is all about economic justice."
Volunteers from nearby junior high schools and Catholic University also helped the Archbishop Carroll students.
"We are doing this to put food on the tables of people who don't have enough money to buy their own Thanksgiving meals," said Richard Lancaster, a 17-year-old high school junior.
Michelle Orellana, 18, a high school senior, said: "There are families out there that don't have a place to go for Thanksgiving, and I know that I do."
The food was delivered to seven shelters across the District and about 150 families.
"Each family gets three boxes of food and a turkey," Mrs. Anderson said. "It's about three weeks' worth of food."

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