A basket of cheer

Schenectady Kiwanis Club and Tuscan Lodge No. 85 give back to community

During a time of need, a knock at the door can make all the difference.

For more than 20 years the Schenectady Kiwanis Club and Tuscan Lodge No. 85 have partnered to provide local families with food baskets and toys to place under the tree for children on Christmas morning. Throughout the partnership they've helped hundreds of struggling families in Schenectady County to merry Christmas.

We are proud to be part of this fun and worthwhile project that helps to bring two local organizations together to serve a common goal, said Nick Barber, president of the Schenectady Kiwanis Club. "To me, it is gratifying to know we made the holidays a little brighter for families in need."

Tuscan Lodge Master Andrew Smalls echoed Barber and said, "The partnership between our two organizations and the relief that we have brought to families truly celebrates the goodwill of the Christmas season."

Families are chosen through an application process, which targets single parents within Schenectady County that are currently working, or collecting unemployment benefits, with two or more children under thirteen years old. Each family chosen receives a basket of food and toys for each of the children in the household.

Richard McNeal, project chairman for the Tuscan Lodge, said they are able to provide around 32 to 28 food baskets a year and average around 115 children a year receiving toys.

"It is a way to give back to the community I grew up in," said McNeal. "I see what happens and I see the families that need help."

The groups divide the project work with Kiwanis members collecting toy donations from club members and members of other area Kiwanis Clubs and Tuscan Lodge members coordinate the food baskets that are provided by monetary donations from members.

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