Several years ago, Rose Matthews started taking care of two of her great-grandchildren. The children’s mother was going through drug-related issues, and the children were on the brink of going into foster care.
They were little – neither more than 6 years old at the time – but she wasn’t letting them go.
“I wanted those kids,” Rose says. “It’s wonderful. I’m glad they didn’t go to a children’s home.”
For Rose, taking care of family is a central part of her life.
She grew up a small city about 30 minutes north of Johnson City, Tennessee.
When she was 9 years old, her father died from what she called a bad heart. He was only 29 years old. Rose, being the oldest child, was asked to help raise the rest of the children in the family.
“It wasn’t easy, but it’s just something that we had to do,” Rose says.
‘More thankful on Thanksgiving’
Rose moved to York shortly after she was married and has been here for more than 50 years, raising children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
Things still aren’t easy for Rose. At 71, she can’t walk very well or very far, but that hasn’t stopped her from shining in the kitchen when holidays like Thanksgiving come around.
“I love it,” she says. “I can manage in the kitchen. There’s always a lot of food on the table.”
The food – a basket of turkey, potatoes, dressing, peas, corn and, her favorite, cranberry sauce – comes from LifePath Christian Ministries, the York County Food Bank, and the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry’s annual York Giving food distribution.
Every year, the groups will distribute about 2,000 Thanksgiving meal boxes to families across York County – families like Rose’s who need the help around the holidays.
Many of the families receive food throughout the year. Rose says she gets food from Catholic Harvest Food Pantry about once a month – the little things like eggs, milk and cheese. She has a driver who can help take her to the store, but those little things go a long way, she says.
She’s thankful all year round for the help that she gets, but Thanksgiving is special.
“We all need to be more thankful on Thanksgiving,” she says. “I’m thankful every day, but some people just skip Thanksgiving. That can’t happen.”
With Thanksgiving near, LifePath is getting ready for York Giving: Thanksgiving Edition for this weekend, Nov. 17 and 18.
“The unique thing about this project is that families can get the products needed for a Thanksgiving meal, so they can have a Thanksgiving celebration in their own home with their family around and prepare it themselves,” says Melanie Hady, partner relations engagement manager for LifePath Christian Ministries.
Even after York Giving, donations will still be accepted as the need remains for LifePath to stock its pantry and continue to feed families. You can learn more about the food drive here.
Melanie says the families receiving baskets are referred to the groups by caseworkers – meaning the food goes to families that need it.
“We truly are reaching the folks that have the most need,” Melanie says. “It’s a great way for the community to come together at Thanksgiving time for a good cause.”