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Food and clothing drive helps more than 300 families in Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
Some of the items being donated to the food and clothing drive.

The Greater Syracuse Labor Council and the United Way of Central New York are holding their annual food and clothing drive in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Last year the organizations provided items to more than 300 families with the help of almost 150 volunteers.

Helen Hudson works for both the Labor Council and the United Way and said volunteers will sort through the donated items to be delivered to women’s shelters and various churches.

“Most people I know, including myself, have an over-abundance of things and if you’re not going to use it there are always going to be somebody else that can," Hudson said. "For me personally, I’d rather donate it than to sell it or give it away.”

The organizations are looking for coats, hats, boots, gloves, non-perishable food, baby formula, diapers and toiletries. Pensabene’s Casa Grande in Syracuse is donating their space, where items can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will make 300 sandwiches to be taken over to the nonprofit Samaritan Center which helps fight hunger and poverty. Hudson’s colleague on Syracuse’s Common Council, Joe Carni, who runs his family’s Thanos Import Market, is donating deli meat.

Hudson said members of the Fight for $15 movement who advocate for $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food and retail workers will join volunteers at Pensabene's. She said there will also be information available about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He lost his life fighting for the Memphis sanitation workers for their wages, their civil rights, for respect and dignity," Hudson said. "All of the same things we’re talking about again today.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.