Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Project Hope of Easton Provides Holiday Celebration for Hundreds

By Christina Georgiou
Judith Walker talks about Project Hope
of Easton on Tuesday.

For the past 25 years, a small group of volunteers has quietly provided a happier holiday for local residents in need.
This Sunday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. they will do it again for the 26th year at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church, at the corner of Ferry and South Fourth streets.
What started as a simple idea--to bring holiday meals to shut-ins has grown immensely over two and a half decades to providing a festive meal, children's toys, groceries, warm clothes and other gifts to several hundred low-income people and families annually, said organizer Judith Walker.
At last year's dinner, Project Hope served more than 400 holiday meals and distributed toys and other gifts to  more than 200 children.
"Every child goes home with a toy, and we give a bag of groceries to each family too, so they can have another festive meal for the holidays," she said.
Music, entertainment, and a visit and photo with Santa are all part of the event.
More than 75 volunteers and about 35 donors make the effort possible, Walker said.
"We rely totally on the generosity of those in the community," she noted.
The group expects a similar number to attend again this year. More than 300 have already signed up for Sunday's event.
"I myself have already received more than 100 phone calls," she said.
But registration isn't necessary to attend. Anyone that would like to come is welcome.
"We realize many people don't have a way to sign up," she noted.
Project Hope was started by Southside resident Rose Threadford. When Threadford moved out of the area, Judith Walker, along with her husband, cardiologist Stanley Walker, and Steven Sterner, took over the organization.

Project Hope of Easton organizers Steve Sterner,
Dr. Stanley Walker and Judith Walker.

"Every year, it kind of grows," said Sterner. "We were well over 400 people last year. We had to have two seatings."
Mayor Sal Panto praised the event at a press conference Tuesday to raise awareness of Project Hope's effort, noting that while the charity has quietly worked to make the season brighter for many years, a lot of people don't know about them.
"I myself only heard about them last year," Panto said.
He added that there are many stereotypes and misconceptions about the people the group assists.
"These are people who are the working poor. These are needy people who get stereotyped as being homeless, and they're not," said Panto. "It's not that they're lazy, it's that they're not making enough money."
He attributed the depth of need to the economy.
"It's a shame that this recession has been so long," Panto said. "The people who have need to take care of those that don't."
Those that would like to assist Project Hope of Easton's effort are still welcome to make a donation, either of goods or funds. The group is specifically looking for:
  • New toys and baby items
  • New games and books
  • New school backpacks
  • New school art supplies
  • New sweaters, coats, gloves, and socks for ages newborn to adult
Call Judith Walker at 610-905-9628 or email Project Hope of Easton to arrange gift drop off
Those in need are welcome to come to the event. It is recommended that attendees arrive before 4 p.m. to ensure seating.
For more about Project Hope of Easton, visit the organization's website at

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