Neighborhood Center Food Drive Appeals to the Community for Support
Nov. 16 2023

Neighborhood Center Food Drive Appeals to the Community for Support

Utica, NY — As the season of giving approaches, families unsure of how they will make it through the holidays have turned to community organizations for help. For decades, local organizations relied on Operation Sunshine to coordinate donations to eligible families in the Mohawk Valley. Operation Sunshine ceased operation in 2022, leaving agencies like The Neighborhood Center to seek other ways to meet the growing needs of our community.

While Stuff the Bus, Toys for Tots, and the Utica University Teddy Bear Toss supplement the need for toys, The Neighborhood Center’s Executive Director Sandra Soroka believes that charitable organizations have the responsibility to aid families facing food insecurity this holiday season. According to data from the Food Bank of Central New York, 1 in 5 children are insecure in the Mohawk Valley. While chronic hunger would take a toll on anyone’s well-being, it is especially harmful for children, whose developing bodies need good nutrition for proper growth. Additionally, research shows that childhood food insecurity can be linked to physical disabilities, as well as behavioral health issues.

The Neighborhood Center’s Food Drive hopes to help families in need this holiday season by providing a holiday meal. The idea for a food drive began in one of The Neighborhood Center’s school-age childcare classrooms. Denise Toner and her class, The Navigators, decided to seek donations from their families and other Neighborhood Center employees to combat the need for food in our community. “Last year our holiday assistance program served 600 children and we are expecting similar numbers this year,” said Toner. “The children are so excited to help others.” In order to meet the need of the families that participate in holiday assistance, Toner estimates that they will need at least 5,000 canned goods – yams, potatoes, corn, green beans, canned fruit – as well as 1,000 boxed items such as instant potatoes, cereal, and pancake/waffle mix.

Additionally, the center hopes to raise funds provide a turkey, chicken, or ham to each family. “Organizations are being called on to meet this need,” says Soroka, “and it is very difficult to do so without community support. This community, however, always supports our calls to action.”

The public can donate canned goods and boxed goods at the following Neighborhood Center, Inc location:

  • Administration Building, 624 Elizabeth Street Utica NY 13501
  • Utica Clinic, 628 Mary Street Utica NY 13501
  • Rome Clinic, 199 W Dominick St # 2, Rome, NY 13440

Monetary donations can be made on The Neighborhood Center website at Click “Donate” and select “Fund to Feed – Holiday Assistance.”

The mission of The Neighborhood Center, Inc. is to enrich the lives of individuals and families through cooperative opportunities, resources and advocacy which embrace diversity, promote empowerment, and foster responsible citizenship. Through its sustained pattern of activities that benefit children, families and the community since 1905, The Neighborhood Center, Inc. continues to advance in our enduring mission of truly “human” service.

For more information about The Neighborhood Center, call (315) 272-2600, or visit,

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