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Marywood Volunteers Help Ease Food Insecurity
Dr. Christopher Speicher, Kate O'Connor, Dean James Sullivan
Dr. Christopher Speicher, Kate O'Connor, Dean James Sullivan
May 11, 2020

Marywood University volunteers have been assisting the food giveaways that Friends of the Poor (FOTP) have been holding throughout the area. When the pandemic crisis first presented itself in Northeastern Pennsylvania, volunteers stepped up to make sure that families didn’t need to worry about how they would put a meal on the table.

Christopher Speicher, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Business and Global Innovation at Marywood University, has been involved with Friends of the Poor for its Thanksgiving and other events for the past ten years. Since the first COVID-19 Emergency Food Giveaway in Dunmore, Pa., Dr. Speicher put an email out to faculty and staff at Marywood University to see if more volunteers would help out at additional food giveaways.

Dr. Speicher said,” As the number of our regular volunteers dropped off due to people’s fears, the number of Marywood volunteers seemed to increase.”

Many of the volunteers also brought their family members with them, making it a family volunteer initiative and furthering the volunteer efforts. Sister Ann Walsh, IHM, former president and CEO of Friends for the Poor, and FOTP’s current assistant director, hasn’t given up running the day-to-day operations of the ministry and its food giveaways.

Dr. Speicher said, “Sister Ann Walsh is the most incredible woman I think I’ve ever met in my entire life. She has unbelievable energy and just never stops. All of us [volunteers] will be exhausted after doing a day’s worth of work, but she gets in her car, loads it with food and goes door-to-door to various places for people that have called in and said they need food but are unable to get to the food giveaway location.”

What began as a once-a-week event, soon turned into two days, and then three days a week. In addition to food giveaways at announced locations, volunteers take any remaining food and donations and deliver them door-to-door, which serves an additional five hundred or more families.

The mission of Friends of the Poor is to ease the burden of those living in poverty and enhance the quality of life for all who live in low-to moderate income communities. Founded by Sister Adrian Barrett, IHM in 1984, and sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, Pa., the ministry brings together in friendship those who have the desire to give with those in need of assistance.

The next COVID-19 Emergency Drive-Through Food Giveaway is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13, 2020, from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., at the Career Technology Center, 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, Pa., 18508. This event is open to the public. A zip code and the number of children/adults/elderly in each household are required. For information about volunteering, please email Friends of the Poor, at

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