For MANNA volunteers delivering Thanksgiving meals, the most important ingredient is love

About 4,000 turkey dinners were sent out to more than 900 households
MANNA volunteers coordinate meal delivery.
MANNA volunteers coordinate meal delivery. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A few hundred volunteers on Thursday cooked, packed and delivered Thanksgiving Day meals to people who are critically ill, throughout greater Philadelphia. For 32 years now, Philadelphia nonprofit MANNA has organized the annual Thanksgiving meal delivery campaign.

This year, the effort distributed 4,000 holiday meals among more than 900 households.

The kitchen at the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance headquarters (20th and Hamilton streets) was bustling with people preparing meals at various stations and packing it into containers.

“The menu is a full turkey dinner: a half-turkey, legs, yams, stuffing, green beans — everything you could possibly want,” said longtime volunteer Larry Lipski.

More volunteers, lined up along the street in their personal vehicles, waited Thursday morning  to get their cargo and their delivery list.

Hundreds and hundreds of meals are lined up, ready to be destributed among MANNA's clients.
Hundreds and hundreds of meals are lined up, ready to be destributed among MANNA's clients. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio
A MANNA volunteer picks up bags to carry away in her  car.
A MANNA volunteer picks up bags to carry away in her car. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio
MANNA volunteers are lined up down the street, awaiting cargo and instructions.
MANNA volunteers are lined up down the street, awaiting cargo and instructions. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

Among them was Amy Katzeff from Villanova. The experience is a holiday tradition for her, husband James and 11-year-old son Reed. This is their seventh or eighth year giving thanks by helping out, Amy said.

“We do this because it’s a really good way of giving back one day a year,” she said.

James said they occasionally are able to meet the people they deliver to, which makes the experience all the more rewarding.

“We’ve been invited inside a few homes,” he said. “And sometimes people tell you stories about their lives. It’s really interesting.”

His son Reed said, “I feel happy when I do that, because I feel like they need it.”

All year round, MANNA provides up to 21 meals per week to its clients to see to their nutritional needs while they manage life-threatening illnesses. “Cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS,” said Sue Daugherty, CEO.

“This is not their traditional Thanksgiving, so when our volunteers knock at the door they are not only getting amazing food but they are getting the love that comes with it — and it really does make a difference in their life.”

Lipsky says he has been helping MANNA for 29 years.

“I brought about 30 to 40 friends and coworkers,” he said. “My boss is here, his family. And we come every year.”

He says he never gets tired of it. “No, I will do this until I can no longer possibly do it,” he said.

Larry Lipsky (wearing the turkey hat) says he has been volunteering with MANNA for 29 years.
Larry Lipsky (wearing the turkey hat) says he has been volunteering with MANNA for 29 years. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio
Featured Image Photo Credit: John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio