Just a couple of years ago, Forbes Magazine recognized Chester County as the nationís 24th wealthiest county out of a total of 3,141 counties in the United States. Itís quite an honor, and itís one reason many people find it preferable to living here.

But in among all that wealth, there is a segment of the population that is truly in need. In Kennett, 7.5 percent of households live below the poverty level, according to the United Way of Southern Chester County. In Avondale, itís 14.9 percent and in West Grove, itís 8.3 percent.

Many of these families go week to week wondering where the next meal will come from. And for the most part, weíre not talking about families expecting handouts. Many of these families have dual-income earners, but they make minimum wage or slightly more. Many of them work in the agriculture industry or fast food industry. Feeding a family of four or more on that salary in this area is unreasonable.

During the holiday season Ė from Thanksgiving to Christmas Ė food is most in demand at the Kennett Food Cupboard, which provides a weekís supply of food to an average of 1,500 people each month. But due to the increasing poverty rate, the demand for food from the Cupboard has increased 20 percent over last year.

Last year, volunteers at the Cupboard distributed nearly $400,000 worth of food to more than 700 families in southern Chester County. A majority of the food distributed comes directly from the local community in the form of community food drives, family gardens, partnerships with local farmers and grocers and individual donations.

The holiday season should be all about giving. The haves should give to the have nots. In our community, we have organizations which do exactly that.

Last week, the annual food drive from Boy Scouts Troop 321, Pack 60 and Pack 22 brought in $1,500 pounds of food for the Kennett Food Cupboard. And the families of St. Michaelís Lutheran Church packed 56 tubs of Thanksgiving meals for the cupboard. And students at Kennett and Garney Valley high schools just finished their holiday food drives, bringing in $1,200 pounds of food that will be used to feed the hungry in our area. And Exelon Corp. in Kennett just donated 12,000 pounds of food.

Other organizations that recently pitched in are Tick Tock Learning Center; Blitz Automotive; Genesis Health Care; TJ Maxx; St. Gabrielís Church; St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square; Avon Grove Youth Education Association; Salon Secrets; Creative Play Preschool; Momís Club of Kennett Square; Activate Chester County Walk for Hunger; and Unionville Elementary School.

Consider donating an item or two at the Kennett Food Cupboard. Or if money is truly tight, volunteer your time there; volunteers are always needed to stock or distribute food.

For more information on donating food to the Kennett Food Cupboard, volunteering, or information on receiving Food Cupboard services, call 610-925-3556 or visit www.KACSonline.net. The Kennett Food Cupboard is located at 136 West Cedar Street in downtown Kennett Square.

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