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Ministry of Caring seeking donations, vows to keep feeding those in need

Delaware News Desk
The Community News

The Ministry of Caring announced it would keep feeding the homeless, poor and newly unemployed through the coronavirus pandemic despite new costs and the cancellation of all fundraising events.

“The combination is devastating,” said Brother Ronald Giannone, OFM Cap. “At this point, we are begging people to donate, to help us continue to care for our neediest neighbors during this terrible time because we cannot desert them or our mission that the poor should never be treated poorly — now or ever.”

The ministry canceled its 38th Annual Emmanuel Dining Room Auction, which raises 1/3 of the operating budget for the ministry's three Emmanuel Dining Room locations, along with other events such as monthly International Night dinners.

“We are incredibly grateful for supporters who have come forward but we desperately need more help,” said Giannone, the ministry founder and executive director.

For the first time in its 42-year history, the ministry’s Emmanuel Dining Room stopped serving sit-down meals.

“Each of the three sites was serving more than 250 people, so we had to close them for everyone’s safety,” Giannone said.

The dining room, which long ago topped a total of 7 million meals served, has shifted with the times. Instead of being greeted, shown to tables and served meals — by nearly 100 ecumenical volunteer groups — the hungry now line up by signs telling them to stay 6 feet apart to get takeout meals from staffers in disposable scrubs, masks, gloves and head covers.

Ministry staff serve more than 500 meals daily, and food containers alone cost more than $1,000 a week; protective gear costs even more.

Emmanuel Dining Room and the ministry shelters are the only two programs — among 19 the ministry normally operates — that remain open. Closed programs include three child care sites, a job placement center, certified nursing assistant and commercial drivers’ license training, rapid rehousing, clothing and household goods distribution, a dental office and mobile medical van for the uninsured in partnership with St. Francis Hospital, among others.

The ministry also faces new costs for masks and gloves being distributed as a precaution at its shelters and three affordable senior housing sites. As part of deepened health-related screening and restrictions, no visitors are allowed.

“Banning visitors and closing most of our programs was heartbreaking — the hardest decision in the ministry’s history — but we really had no choice,” said Giannone, adding he looks forward to reopening the ministry’s other programs when the pandemic has passed.

“In the meantime,” he said, “I will continue to pray for all the families already affected by the coronavirus pandemic, along with the staff and volunteers — true heroes risking their own health to keep feeding and housing our neediest brothers and sisters — and ask God to bless everyone who helps us for their kindness to His poor.”

Donations may be sent to the Ministry of Caring, 115 E. 14th St., Wilmington, DE 19801-3209 or made securely at ministryofcaring.org.

Food donations may be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at Emmanuel Dining Room West, 121 N. Jackson St., Wilmington. Donations bought online through Amazon also may be delivered to that address.

Restaurants and other businesses should call 652-5523 to arrange donations.

Most-needed foods are commercial-size cans of tuna fish, chicken, other meats, vegetables and fruit; cases of single-serving applesauce, fruit cocktail, chips and other snacks; cases of hot dogs, rolls and bread; large tubs of lunch meats and cases of ketchup and mustard packets.

For more, visit ministryofcaring.org.