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Assembly line of goodwill helps Worth’s poor

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

  It resembled an assembly line.

  It was a well-oiled machine.
  They have it down to a science.
  And why not? They’ve had more than 60 years to perfect it.
  The hundreds of volunteers of the Worth Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 held its annual holiday food drive Sunday morning. More than 80 families received food, clothes or toys thanks to the Legion with an assist from the Worth Lions Club.
  At about 8 a.m., the Legion’s hall was filled with items, making it look like a grocery store.
  It didn’t take long for volunteers to put the groceries in numbered boxes — mostly boxes that formerly housed bottles and cans of beer — and have them ready for dozens of other volunteers to put in their vehicles for deliveries to underprivileged families.
  Within an hour, the hall looked like a ghost town and the assembly line was in full gear on a freezing Sunday morning. At one point, the beer boxes were stacked higher than the size of even some of the taller volunteers.
  Bethanne Lode, a co-chair of the event, said this year was challenging.
  “We do two drives — one near Thanksgiving and one near Christmas,” she said. “This year, Thanksgiving was a week later than it usually is and we had just three weeks to get ready for the Christmas drive. But as you can see, our volunteers have once again done a great job getting this together.”
  The group has had plenty of practice keeping this event efficient.
  Ask any volunteer how long this drive has been going on and you might get a number of different answers. The line “as long as I can remember” seemed to be the most popular answer.
  “I’ve been doing this since I was six,” Lode said. “That’s 44 years.”
  Another theory is that it started in the late 1940s, when the post started up.
  “There was a time when there were 20 or 30 families and I would deliver everything,” said Terry Mahaffay, who said he’s been at it more than 50 years. “You put everything in a van and then go. It’s changed a lot.’’
  Co-chairman Mary Frestel has been at her position for 14 years and enjoys what she is doing.
  “Helping the families of Worth is something that I like to do,” she said. “They appreciate it. They need it. They need it during Christmas and Thanksgiving.”