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United Way of Berks County and an anonymous donor pitch in to help out Helping Harvest

The COVID pandemic has stressed local nonprofit organizations, perhaps none more so than Helping Harvest.

With unemployment numbers soaring, the need for food assistant has skyrocketed. And Helping Harvest, a local food bank, has stepped up to meet that challenge by nearly doubling the usual 6.5 million it distributes each year to 11 million in 2020.

But sometimes the helpers need help, too.

Helping Harvest has been trying to raise funds to build two on-site storage units to increase its refrigeration and freezer capacity at its Spring Township facility. This week the United Way of Berks County announced it was chipping in, awarding the organization a $450,000 United Way Impact Grant.

“This grant is an investment in fighting hunger and providing healthy food choices,” United Way of Berks County President Tammy White said of the grant, which was supported by the MacKenzie Scott gift received last year. “We were thrilled to have a matching gift from an anonymous donor because of their shared commitment to fight hunger in Berks County.”

On top of the money from the United Way, Helping Harvest is also receiving a matching $450,000 from an anonymous donor. White said the donor hopes their gift inspires others in the community to also match future United Way grants to help maximize their impact.

“I was speechless when I received the phone call from United Way telling me about the grant and the anonymous matching gift,” said Jay Worrall, president of Helping Harvest.

The $900,000 total gift will allow Helping Harvest to store 250,000 more pounds of healthy foods — an increase of about 50% — that get distributed to more than 200 charitable programs across Berks. Those programs include food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, after-school programs, senior living facilities and their own mobile markets.

Each year Helping Harvest helps feed more than 110,000 people.

Along with the donations from the United Way and the anonymous donor, Helping Harvest has also received financial help from others for its storage project.

“This community is very generous, and we share our gratitude with all of the individuals who have helped pave the way for this project,” Worrall said. “I am also thankful for our board of directors’ leadership and generosity.”

Worrall said the total amount raised for the project will not only help build the new storage units, but also fill them. That includes loading up on frozen hams and turkeys for the upcoming holiday season.

Source: Berkshire mont

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