By Gigi Marino
LEWISBURG, Pa. — For Lewisburg resident Natasha Bloomfield, Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of the year. The mother of three never underestimates gratitude, or generosity.
Bloomfield and her husband and children spend the holiday with her parents, siblings and extended family. "I'm so grateful that I'm able to contribute food this year," she said. "My family also is having trouble making ends meet. Everything is so expensive. A few years ago, we couldn't afford a turkey at all."
Thanks to Bucknell students, faculty and staff, and the Turkey and Trimmings Holiday Basket program, hundreds in Union County will enjoy a meal that they otherwise may not have been able to afford. Organized by Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement, the program has been providing Thanksgiving meals for financially strapped families for nearly a decade.
Bucknellians can either donate money or put together their own Thanksgiving basket. A typical basket includes a gift card for a turkey, stuffing, yams, potatoes, canned vegetables, gravy, hot cocoa mix and dessert ingredients. This is the second year Bloomfield has participated. She was delighted that her basket included a brand-new tea towel and oven mitts.
"I rarely get anything new," she said. "I'm used to having hand-me-downs. My table, couch and most of my kids' clothes are hand-me-downs."
The Office of Civic Engagement receives names of families in need from six Lewisburg-area agencies, including the Red Cross and Head Start. This year, the office set a goal to distribute 120 baskets.
"Our goal of 120 was well exceeded; we received 129 baskets," said Lynn Pierson, assistant director of community service at Bucknell. "Approximately 500 local residents will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal between the basket and monetary donations this year."
Bloomfield said if she were to meet the people who put together her family's basket, she would most definitely greet them with a hug. "It's a blessing for others to be able to help families like mine survive," she said. "I don't even know how to express my thanks. People have no idea how touching this is."