Thanksgiving helpers

Unity in the Community and Second Street Irish Society will offer assistance to disadvantaged families on and beyond the holiday.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 21, 2012

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Second Street Irish Society members spent much of Saturday distributing bags for the group’s latest holiday endeavor.

Photo by Michael Remshard

Having grown up with few resources, Anton Moore appreciates opportunities to assist those in similar or far more harrowing situations. The humanitarian founded Unity in the Community four years ago to brighten beleaguered lives and has made the holiday season a chief time for altruism.

Today, he is broadening his organization’s scope by traveling to northern New Jersey to provide food and clothing to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” the 26-year-old said last week of selecting the Garden State. “I saw reports on the devastation and knew I had to help.”

The resident of 20th Street and Snyder Avenue is making his excursion an extension of Unity’s Thanksgiving Giveback initiative, which he began last year by arranging a feast at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church, 2321 Fitzwater St. He continued his penchant for aiding locals’ fortunes yesterday with a gathering at Yesha Fellowship Hall, 2301 Snyder Ave., but is envisioning time in New Jersey as part of a larger crusade in helping forlorn figures to hope again.

“At the end of the day, forget what we do for a living,” the West Passyunk inhabitant said. “Our real job is helping others.”

Because of Sandy, he finds his mission intensified. The largest Atlantic hurricane on record, it formed Oct. 22, dissipating nine days later but not before hammering most of the eastern United States, leaving roughly eight million people without power. Its destruction will cost $20 billion in property damages, with as much as $30 billion in lost business, making it the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane, behind only 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, according to IHS Global Insight.

Moore started his campaign two weeks ago, contacting the American Red Cross and local churches to determine whom he could count as backers in addition to his eager family members. A respected community presence, he received great feedback through them, Facebook and Twitter, furthering Unity’s record of caring that includes anti-violence walks, block parties, Operation Holiday Help during the Christmas season and the Ultimate Prom Experience.

“The responses have been heartwarming, so we’re ready to help people to get their lives back on track,” Moore, who is relying on, among others, Grays Ferry’s Don’t Shoot...I Want a Future and 186th District state Rep.-elect Jordan Harris to load a van with goodies, said.

Moore, who works in New York City as a BET special programs coordinator, had considered assisting that metropolis, as circumstances have become so dire that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has requested $30 billion from the federal government to rebuild the Empire State’s damaged territories.

“I’d heard some people were told they might not have electricity until Christmas,” he said, adding that difficulty acquiring permission from numerous agencies will keep him from visiting New York.

Having experienced no such drama with New Jersey officials, he will spend his holiday among those who find themselves needing to rely on the kindness of strangers, much like he did as a toddler living in a homeless shelter. His relatives have busied themselves preparing foods and will help him to dish out the goods, as well as distribute winter apparel and sneakers to displaced and distressed individuals.

“Gov. [Chris] Christie might even make an appearance,” Moore said of the Republican leader who has actively involved himself in his state’s recovery. “It’s all going to be about the welfare of others because nobody is better than anyone else.”

The advocate uses his Christian faith as motivation, deeming his work a secondary vocation that reminds him of his need to be humble and helpful.

“I often think cursed be the day we lose everything and can’t find someone to help us,” he said. “I always want that role as a helper.”

While Moore hopes to alleviate stress today, representatives from the Second Street Irish Society, 1937 S. Third St., are aspiring to make this weekend their sixth selfless post-holiday outreach. Their 17-year-old organization is collecting goods for the WMMR Preston and Steve Camp Out for Hunger, which then will send materials to Philabundance, 3616 S. Galloway St.

“We’re just looking to continue our calls to community service and volunteerism,” eighth-year president Michael Remshard said last week at the Pennsport site as his peers prepared bags that they adorned with fliers announcing their mission.

The resident of the 200 block of Mifflin Street and the society’s 100 members became involved in the radio station’s initiative to see to it that famished families and households receive aid far beyond Thanksgiving. Having begun with a can drive years ago, they now welcome an assortment of provisions, with most success coming through their neighborhood travels.

“We will put together almost 5,000 bags and go door-to-door, covering Washington Avenue to Shunk Street, from Front to Fourth streets,” Remshard said. “We will then go out and collect them Nov. 24 and 25.”

While many organizations focus primarily on Thanksgiving, his organization took the approach that local residents would likely have enough unopened extra edibles to part with following their feasts. Remshard said they have sought to replenish Philabundance, noting that youth participation in distributing and collecting bags has given him and his allies great pride.

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