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Salvation Army helping Allegheny food bank reach McKeesport seniors

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 10:22 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Steel View Manor residents Roger Bradley, left, and Steve Hranics sort through fresh produce, including squash, onions and a giant sweet potato, as they volunteer for Thursday's food distribution at their apartment building.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Salvation Army Major Sean Barton checks in with Steel View Manor volunteer Marcella Wharton as she opens packages of canned vegetables and jarred peanut butter for Thursday's food distribution.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Steel View Manor residents Denise Jericka and Collen Morgan check each carton of eggs before Thursday's food distribution in their apartment building.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
John Evans III checks in with Salvation Army social worker Bruce Hall and board president Gladys Hunt-Mason during Thursday's food distribution at Steel View Manor.

The Salvation Army of McKeesport is helping Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank reach seniors who rely on in-house distribution at city high-rise apartments.

In June, the corps assumed administrative duties for monthly pantry set-ups in multi-purpose rooms at McKeesport Housing Authority's Isbir Manor, Steel View Manor and McKeesport Towers.

“Through the grapevine, we heard these distribution sites were in danger of closing, and we couldn't watch that happen,” Major Sean Barton of the Salvation Army said. “What we're doing is kind of a pilot program for the food bank. They are looking for other churches and organizations to do this type of work for senior high-rises in the Pittsburgh area.”

On Thursday, Salvation Army board members and staff joined Steel View volunteers in providing nonperishable items, fresh produce and dairy to dozens of residents. Tables were lined with cans of tuna, beans, soup, carrots and apple sauce. There were bags of farm-fresh zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions and tomatoes, and frozen ground beef and blueberries.

“This is the best food bank in the system,” resident Steve Hranics said. “We have fantastic volunteers and a great routine. We do this to help our neighbors.”

Social worker Bruce Hall, who works for the Salvation Army, said in-house food pantries benefit those who live in senior high-rises on a variety of levels.

“This is a wholistic service,” he said. “It's a lifeline for many residents. Whatever the situation is outside, every person's individual situation is important.”

McKeesport Housing Authority executive director Stephen Bucklew said the service is valuable.

“Our residents are on fixed incomes, and many are unable to get out to do shopping or visit other pantries,” Bucklew said. “We are thrilled that the Salvation Army stepped up to continue to provide this much needed service in our buildings.”

Gladys Hunt-Mason, a Salvation Army board member who also serves on the women's auxiliary, described McKeesport Housing Authority's in-house pantries as “marvelous” volunteer efforts.

Impressed by how many residents take time to serve their neighbors, Hunt-Mason said she wants to see Salvation Army volunteers put in their time.

“We don't have to have the same people at every location, but if we can get a few here and a few there, we can make a difference,” she said. “I didn't realize how much work people were doing here. When I see the good work of the food bank, I feel like I'm a part of something that really contributes to society.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956.

, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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