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Owen Karoscik

Doing God’s Work

Local Religious Groups Help the Hungry in NEPA

by Owen Karoscik, sophomore communication arts major

All religions have a difference in beliefs and values. But one thing they all have in common is helping to feed the hungry. They may not be able to save them all, but do whatever they can to save as many as possible. No matter their beliefs, they are all prepared to do God’s work.

Mission groups nationwide perform dozens of food drives and donations. In northeast Pennsylvania, there are many different religious groups that work simultaneously to help the hungry.

The Peckville Assembly of God works with the Scranton Rescue Mission to provide dinners to low-income households once a month. It also launched the Helping Hands Food Pantry that serves more than 400 families every month. They merged with the Scranton Rescue Mission Food Pantry, and still support them with volunteers and donations.

“We send about two dozen people every second week to the Food Pantry and seven people to the rescue mission once a month,” said John Cicilioni, Pastor of Peckville Assembly of God. 

Pastor Cicilioni of Peckville estimates that his parish helps out approximately two thousand people per year.

“Nothing is just a Christian duty,” said Pastor Cicilioni, “Jesus would reach out to people’s spiritual needs as well as their physical needs.”

Peckville Assembly of God helps serves people of all kinds from the Scranton area, Archbald, Eynon, Peckville, and Dickson City.

The Jewish community in Northeast PA helps out a great deal, too. Lisa Morgan is the spokesperson for the Jewish Mission Group, which has a food pantry as well as a kosher-delivered home program similar to Meals on Wheels.

“We use volunteers to deliver our meals,” said Morgan. “We are also affiliated with CEO [Commission on Economic Opportunity] and get food from the Weinberg Food Bank.”

Some critics are under the assumption that the local, state, and federal government does very little to help feed the hungry. According to Pastor Cicilioni, such an assumption is incorrect.

“The problem is not so much lack of food or lack of government help,” said Pastor Cicilioni, “It’s a lack of infrastructure to distribute the food.”  In other words, there are not enough people to help out and feed the hungry.

Lisa Morgan also stated, “We got a grant from an organization called Mazon, a Jewish hunger organization and we put out some educational fliers.”

Some people, though, have too much pride to take donated food even though they are hungry.  

“People are ashamed to ask and say they have need even when we are here to help them,” said Pastor Cicilioni, “Nobody in our culture ever turns away someone who says they need food.”

Those in need could call the Helping Hands Food Pantry at 689-2070.

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