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Groups help local families

The pandemic has put many people in a tough spot, due to loss of jobs, temporary closures of businesses, lost time at work due to illness or quarantining and the rise in costs of products and services across the board. When many families were celebrating the holidays, others were struggling just to keep food on the table. Food insecurity has always been a serious issue, but this year has been especially hard.

Before Christmas, Dr. Lorie Hackett, Whitehall-Coplay School District superintendent, read an email from a family in need of food and forwarded it to district registrar Michelle Khouri. Khouri emailed the family and assured them she would find the help they needed.

Community members and organizations quickly joined together to help.

Denise Continenza, coordinator of Communities That Care and president of Whitehall Area Rotary Club, along with Diane Davidson, Rotary secretary and past president, allocated the club’s “happy dollars” to the cause. At each club meeting, members donate a dollar and share happy news with the group. In December, they asked members to contribute what they could and added other Rotary funds to the total.

One member even donated the food basket she won at the Jingle Bell Run held in Coplay in early December 2020.

“Whitehall-Coplay is indeed a community that cares,” Continenza said.

Through donations from the Rotary, Movement Mortgage, LaFarge, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative, Whitehall High School, district office and community members, Aldi gift cards were purchased to help not one, but two Whitehall-Coplay families in their time of need. Shari Noctor, president of Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative, also delivered food to the families’ homes.

Mortgage Movement, Allentown, managed by Michelle Wahlmark, a WHS alum, provided local families, including the two from Whitehall, with grocery store gift cards. Her team read stories from families who were struggling and chose nine to help.

Khouri and Leah Unger, WCSD administrative assistant to the superintendent, were happy to deliver the gift cards.

“We were able to provide a substantial amount of food and gift cards to brighten up two needy families’ holidays,” Khouri said.

Hackett said, “We are so very grateful and thankful as a school district that our community is so responsive to the needs of our families and goes over and above to support families in need.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Diane Davidson, secretary and former president of Whitehall Area Rotary Club, presents Michelle Khouri, Whitehall-Coplay School District registrar, with gift cards for two WCSD families in need.