Food. Clothing. Shelter. We may often find ourselves taking these three basic needs for granted, never having to wonder when we will eat again and where we will sleep. But for far too many men, women, children and families throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg, these three basic needs are challenging to meet.

That’s where the generosity of supporters of the Matthew 25 Grant Program fill in the gaps, providing much needed and, in some cases, life-saving support.

“We travel and meet with these organizations. We meet the people running them and meet their clients,” said Sharon Turner, chairperson of the Matthew 25 Grant Program selection committee. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see what these organizations are doing, some with very little money. They are truly using their time, talent and treasure.”

Turner added that the impact from the Matthew 25 grants is incredible.

“Sometimes, this grant is one-third to half of the organization’s budget,” Turner said. “The committee also looks at sustainability when awarding these grants. We understand that our donors want to know that great care is going into the selection process.”

Through the generosity of those who donated to the Matthew 25 collection this past November, the committee has selected 33 organizations to receive funding. A total of $231,300 has been granted to the following organizations:

Adams County Emergency Family Shelter: $8,000

The shelter, started in 1991, is an affiliate of the South Central Community Action Program. This emergency shelter has 10 family rooms and assists families in finding safe, affordable, long-term housing. Annually, the shelter serves nearly 200 individuals, more than half of which are children. The Adams County Emergency Family Shelter is a first-time applicant. The funding will be used to help offset costs of the shelter. Their application was supported by St. Francis Xavier Parish, Gettysburg.

A Woman’s Concern: $6,000

This pregnancy resource medical center offers free and confidential pregnancy-related services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound exams (for eligible clients), community referrals, prenatal and parenting education, and more. This organization tries to reach women at risk of choosing abortion. The grant funding will be used to purchase baby items such as clothing, diapers, hygiene items, etc. A Woman’s Concern’s application was supported by St. Leo the Great Parish, Rohrerstown.

Birthright of Sunbury, Inc.: $1,000

Birthright is a pro-life 501(c)3 organization serving the emergency needs of local, poor infants since 1983. Their mission has been supported by fundraisers, churches, civic organizations, grants, trusts and individual donations. The Matthew 25 grant will be used to purchase powdered infant formula. Birthright’s application was supported by St. Monica Parish, Sunbury.

Carlisle Area Family Life Center: $2,000

Established in 1998, this ministry serves expectant mothers and newborn children. The organization provides a “Basket for Baby,” assisting mothers with clothes, diapers and necessities for their newborn. Carlisle Area Family Life Center’s application was supported by St. Patrick Parish, Carlisle.

Carlisle C.A.R.E.S.: $6,000

Carlisle C.A.R.E.S. has been serving the Cumberland County homeless since 2004. This shelter was founded in the hope of giving two men, who were sleeping in the courtyard of a local church, a roof over their head. Ten years later, the shelter can now house 50 to 70 individuals nightly. In 2010, the program expanded by offering a “Day Center,” where guests can shower, do laundry, make phone calls and receive mail. St. Patrick Parish, Carlisle, supported the application for Carlisle C.A.R.E.S.

Catholic Harvest Food Pantry: $7,500

This ministry distributes food, clothing and personal care items to an average of 700 York County families monthly. The grant will be used to purchase healthy proteins, such as chicken, which are in demand and rarely donated. This ministry has the support of four collaborative parishes and their application was directly supported by St. Joseph Parish, York.

Boxes of food from the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry in York help a woman meet her families’ nutritional needs.
Boxes of food from the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry in York help a woman meet her families’ nutritional needs.

Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area, Inc.: $6,000

This organization was founded to provide emergency assistance to the general public in the wake of the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flood. It is now the central location in Dauphin County for homeless men, women and families seeking emergency shelter, as well as rental assistance, utility assistance and other emergency aid. This organization also provides mentoring and support to ex-offenders and various other ecumenical and community impact efforts. The Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick, Harrisburg, supported Christian Churches United’s application.

Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S.: $6,000

Four area churches assist in this collaborative ministry. The Matthew 25 grant funding will be used to provide temporary housing services, life skills training and access to health care through a partnership with Gettysburg Hospital and Family First Health. St. Francis Xavier Parish, Gettysburg, supported Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S.’ application.

Guardian Angels Outreach Center: $6,000

Established in 2014, Guardian Angels Outreach feeds and shelters the elderly. Volunteers and parishioners provide home-cooked meals for the less fortunate every Wednesday and also deliver meals to those who are homebound. Holy Angels Parish, Kulpmont, supported Guardian Angels Outreach Center’s application.

Healthy Steps Diaper Bank: $8,000

Born of need in 2013, this ministry serves babies and toddlers and assists where WIC or Food Stamps do not, as government programs do not allow funding for diapers. Volunteers collect, store and distribute a supplemental amount of diapers to families in need, enabling them to meet the Department of Health’s diapering guidelines. Parents can also receive training on healthy diapering and potty training. Healthy Steps Diaper Bank’s application was supported by St. Margaret Mary Parish, Harrisburg.

Lancaster County Project for the Needy: $5,000

This program distributes food boxes, hats, mittens and scarves to those in need in both Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Lancaster County Project for the Needy is supported by the local community and has more than 500 volunteers. The grant monies will be used to purchase the meats provided to clients at the holidays. Lancaster County Project for the Needy is supported by Assumption BVM Parish, Lancaster.

Lebanon County Christian Ministries: $6,000

Beginning in 2012 as a food pantry, Lebanon County Christian Ministries now also provides a shelter and resource center, where guests can prepare their meals, do laundry, take showers, and undertake work and house searches. St Paul the Apostle Parish, Annville, supported Lebanon County Christian Ministries’ application.

Manna for the Many (Our Lady of Hope Food Pantry): $6,000

This well-established, all-volunteer run program serves many elderly and unemployed families in the Shamokin and Coal Township areas. This past year, the program distributed more than 33,000 food items to the less fortunate in their community. Manna for the Many’s application was supported by Mother Cabrini Parish, Shamokin.

Manos Unidas Hispanic-American Center, Inc.: $12,000

This ministry was founded by the Latino Services Task Force, an affiliate of Health Adams County, and St. Francis Xavier Parish in 2006 as a response to the growth of the Hispanic immigrant community. The organization provides housing and food to the most disadvantaged and poor Hispanic families. Manos Unidas Hispanic-American Center will use the grant funding for an After School Snack Program, which serves students in three area schools, and for food supplies for the emergency food bank. St. Francis Xavier Parish, Gettysburg, supported Manos Unidas Hispanic-American Center’s application.

Mary’s Helpers: $10,000

This program has served the less fortunate by providing food for impoverished clients within the boundaries of Steelton, Enhaut, Oberlin, Bressler and Highspire. Clients are given meat, eggs, milk and fresh produce twice a month. Mary’s Helpers’ application was supported by Prince of Peace Parish, Steelton.

Morning Star Pregnancy Services: $6,000

This non-denominational Christian pregnancy resource center offers life-affirming alternatives to abortion. With centers in Harrisburg, New Cumberland and Middletown, Morning Star Pregnancy Services serves mainly impoverished men, women and families involved in unplanned pregnancies or caring for children while living well below the poverty line. This organization serves an average of 3,700 clients annually. The Matthew 25 grant will be used for baby formula and diapers. St. Joseph Parish, Mechanicsburg, supported Morning Star Pregnancy Services’ application.

Mother Maria Kaupas Center: $2,800

The Mother Maria Kaupas Center serves the low-income residents of Mount Carmel during the week and will use the Matthew 25 grant monies to start a weekend backpack program for children. This program will give school-aged children a bag of food to take home for the weekend. Divine Redeemer Parish, Mount Carmel, sponsored Mother Maria Kaupas’ application.

New Hope Ministries: $5,000

This Christian social service agency provides assistance with food, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, workforce development, job training and youth programs annually for an average of 16,500 low income residents the Dover, Dillsburg, Hanover and Mechanicsburg areas. New Hope Ministries’ application was jointly supported by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish and St. Joseph Parish, both of Mechanicsburg.

Off the Streets: $12,000

This ministry, founded in 2010, assists the homeless in finding permanent housing. Providing assistance for working clients through security deposits, Off the Streets helps local homeless agencies house fewer people in shelters, and transitions these individuals and families to a path of self-sufficiency. An all-volunteer organization, Off the Streets will use the grant money to support security deposits for permanent housing for families who have been identified and screened. St. John Neumann Parish, Lancaster, supported Off the Streets’ application.

Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen: $6,000

The Church has been steadfast in her support of this vital ministry to the poor and has watched its growth from the basement of Cristo Salvador Church to its current prominent location on South George Street in downtown York. Daily, almost 300 people visit the soup kitchen for breakfast and lunch. Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen will use the Matthew 25 grant to purchase food, household items for families, and warm winter items such as hats, scarves, gloves and coats. Immaculate Conception BVM Parish, York, supported the application for Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen.

A volunteer at Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in York serves a meal to a person in need of food.
A volunteer at Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in York serves a meal to a person in need of food.

OMPH Benevolent Society: $3,000

The OMPH Benevolent Society provides food and emergency financial assistance to families in need in the Ephrata and Denver areas. Serving an average of 160 households per month, the society also offers emergency assistance for utilities and rent. OMPH Benevolent Society was supported by Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, Ephrata.

Power Packs Project: $10,000

Power Packs Project provides a recipe and all of the ingredients, plus other staples, to feed insecure families every week so they have food over the weekend. The Lebanon program was established in 2016 and serves eight elementary schools. More than 850 Lebanon County residents receive food weekly through this program. With the support of the Matthew 25 grant, Power Packs Project will establish a summer program in 2019 to purchase food for families in need. The program has partnered with area churches to assist in distributing the food. Power Packs Project’s application was supported by St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Annville.

Race Track Chaplaincy of America (Penn National): $5,000

Established in 1984, this ministry serves a community of mixed ethnic backgrounds who live and work at the Penn National race track. The chaplaincy assists families of workers who have lost wages due to injury, sickness and racing cancellations. The grant monies will be used to provide assistance to track workers who can’t work due to injury, illness, abuse or abandonment, and to provide rental assistance to prevent eviction. St. Katherine Drexel Parish, Mechanicsburg, supported Race Track Chaplaincy’s application.

St. Francis Soup Kitchen: $12,000

This ministry was established in 1980 to provide meals to the poor and homeless of the Allison Hill, Harrisburg, area. Until now, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish have met the food assistance needs of the poor, but there is a tremendous and growing need in this distressed neighborhood. The soup kitchen, completely staffed by volunteers, serves a hot meal to more than 200 men, women and children six days a week, year round. The Matthew 25 grant will be used to purchase food, kitchen supplies and equipment to provide meals for the homeless in the area. St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Harrisburg, supported the application for St. Francis Soup Kitchen.

Samaritan Fellowship: $12,000

This ministry was established in 1958 to serve people in the Carlisle community who find themselves in crisis due to unforeseen emergencies. The shelter is supported by 21 churches in the Carlisle area. Primarily staffed by members of St. Patrick Parish, this organization helps individuals and families who are destitute. Samaritan Fellowship will use the grant monies for emergency shelter and aid for families with children facing homelessness. St. Patrick Parish, Carlisle, supported the application for Samaritan Fellowship.

San Juan Bautista Social Outreach: $12,000

This ministry serves less fortunate Hispanics throughout the entire county of Lancaster. The program supplies monthly community meals, distributes food weekly, provides holiday food baskets and provides lunch and dinner to more than 500 children on a weekly basis. San Juan Bautista Social Outreach also assists people with critical needs such as medicine, transportation and rental assistance. During this past year, the program assisted Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricanes to relocate to Lancaster County. The Matthew 25 grant will continue to provide outreach services including food, essential household items, holiday food baskets and other community efforts. San Juan Bautista Parish, Lancaster, supported the application for this program.

San Juan Bautista Summer Camp: $7,000

This four-week summer recreation ministry focuses on education, personal growth and development. Children are provided breakfast, lunch and snacks and enjoy arts, crafts and swimming. San Juan Bautista Summer Camp is helping the spiritual and educational growth of the attending children in a community that rates as one of the highest in crime. The grant monies will be used to purchase food and camp t-shirts, which serve as a safety measure. San Juan Bautista Parish, Lancaster, supported the application for this program.

Shalom House: $10,000

This ministry was established in 1986 and continues to provide emergency shelter for up to 20 women and children in times of crisis, while working with them to achieve self-sufficiency. Shalom House works collaboratively with other community organizations to receive clients and to find permanent housing for those in need. The Matthew 25 grant will be used to provide assistance in finding housing, employment and other services. Shalom House’s application was supported by St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Harrisburg.

Shepherd’s Table: $6,000

The Shepherd’s Table serves nearly 170 hot meals to those in need of food and delivers meals to the homebound each week in the Coal Township area. The grant money will allow the organization to purchase food in bulk, provide food for families in an emergency and to purchase supplies needed to serve meals to the homebound. Our Lady of Hope Parish, Coal Township, supported the application for Shepherd’s Table.

Silence of Mary Home: $6,000

This ministry provides a Christian home for God’s abandoned or neglected people of all ages in the greater Harrisburg area. Food, clothing and shelter have been given to young immigrants, refugees, pregnant teens and adults, needy mothers and fathers with small children, and the elderly, providing assistance, compassion and hope. The Matthew 25 grant will support the program’s food bank. St. Theresa Parish, New Cumberland, supported the application for Silence of Mary Home.

The Caring Cupboard: $3,000

This ministry in Palmyra began in 2003 as an elementary Sunday school class project, and within three years evolved into the food pantry it is today. The Caring Cupboard will use the Matthew 25 grant monies to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables they can offer. Holy Spirit Parish, Palmyra, supported The Caring Cupboard’s application.

The Lord’s Lunch: $7,000

What originally began as a Girl Scout Award project to provide meals to those in need, now distributes food weekly, supports a food pantry and supports a summer feeding program for school-aged children in the New Freedom area. The grant monies will go towards a weekly meal and non-perishable food items that can be taken home. St. John the Baptist Parish, New Freedom, supported the application for The Lord’s Lunch.

Transitional Housing and Care Center, Inc. (formerly Gate House Shelter): $11,000

This ministry, established in 1997, provides transitional housing to homeless families and individuals from Montour and Columbia counties and serves 80 to 90 residents annually. The shelter is the only facility in these counties that provides shelter for both homeless men and women, enabling many families to remain intact during their period of transition. The Matthew 25 grant monies will help transition homeless residents to permanent housing and provide life skill training and career counseling. Transitional Housing and Care Center’s application was supported by St. Joseph Parish, Danville.

Total grant money for 2019: $231,300

To learn more about the Matthew 25 grant program, visit

By Rachel Bryson, M.S., The Catholic Witness