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Giving Thanks This Year
Written by Kelly Chandler, Staff Writer

        Making ends meet as the sole provider for four children isn’t the easiest thing to do. Some call it the work of a superhero. 

        But one Upper Perkiomen Valley mother said she is no superwoman. She is simply getting help from some earthly angels. And one of those angels is The Open Line this Thanksgiving holiday.
        The mom to children ages 5 to 14, who didn’t want to be identified, said she is thankful for the people at the agency this holiday after she recently lost her full-time job of nine years. She formerly ran an Alzheimer’s/memory care unit at a nursing facility until her company was bought out and she and her co-workers were all laid off.
        “The Open Line is helping me a lot this time of year,” she said. “I was stressing about how I was going to be able to do Thanksgiving for them. We have had a traditional Thanksgiving over the years at my family’s, but to save money on travel we’re starting a tradition here.”
        The mom, who has added responsibilities with a special needs child, said she is used to being on the other side of the fence when it comes to giving.
        “I have taken people into my home in the past when I was able to, loaned people money and paid to have prescriptions filled and not asked to be reimbursed,” she said. “Even though we are struggling now, I want to provide the best for my kids. They know you don’t need a million things to be happy, and they are all very giving, [but] if we didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner I’d feel like a failure in a way.
        “I think they [The Open Line] do a really great service for the community, especially when people don’t know what they are going to do to make ends meet.”
        The Open Line, a non-profit, multi-service agency based in Pennsburg, has been pulling together all the trimmings essential for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for individuals and families who might be looking at an otherwise dismal holiday.
        They have solicited donations of turkeys and side dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, canned vegetables and even desserts like frozen pies for more than two decades in an effort to give every family a feast worth remembering. Families are notified by the agency as dinner packages become available.
        This year, donations came from a variety of groups and private donors, including the youth group from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sumneytown.
        Elaine Keller, the group’s advisor, said this year the sixth- through twelfth-graders were able to make a big purchase because of matching funds from Thrivent, a non-profit, Lutheran financial group. They went to an area grocery store and bought 12 complete Thanksgiving meals, and included a $20 gift card for a turkey and other perishables in each package when they donated them to The Open Line.
        “One of the kids said it’s good to be able to help people who don’t have as much as we do,” Keller said. “And they have a great time doing it. There’s no thinking about it; it’s just the right thing to do. We are put on this earth to help each other.”
        Frontier Girls, a scout-like youth program for girls, from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Red Hill paired up with the Upper Perkiomen Business and Professional Women’s Club (UPBPW) to shop for families in need as well.
        This year the girls shopped at the Walmart at the Shoppes of Upper Hanover, which matched the $150 contribution, buying them nine turkeys and all the trimmings.
        “We’re very service oriented and we try to give back to the community in a number of ways,” said leader Karen Britton. “It’s a good thing to teach the girls about community service.”
        Turkeys also made their way to The Open Line in the arms of donor Doug Pfeiffer of Upper Perkiomen Chiropractic, who has given to the agency for a whopping 26 years.
        “I have always felt strongly about giving back to our community and that’s why we have constantly done so since I first opened my doors here in the Upper Perkiomen community,” Pfeiffer explained.
        Pennsburg resident Dave Proffit solicited donations from individuals and special pricing from Redner’s Warehouse Market in Red Hill to get 14 turkeys Friday to feed those in need.
        And annual contributor Kulp Financial of Pennsburg, also longtime donors, held their Thanksgiving food drive earlier this month. Staff collected a variety of staples, including non-perishables, cleaning supplies, diapers, paper products and an estimated 15 turkeys, which they happily turned over to The Open Line. They also got $275 in gift cards for other needs. 
        Company President Howard Kulp matches what the staff raises in donations.
        Claudia Kulp of Kulp Financial noted the company sent out more than 500 letters to clients and kicked off the drive in October with a joint shredding event with neighboring Tri-County Area Federal Credit Union.
        “We fell it’s a very important need for the community to help other people in need. Hopefully other businesses will do the same,” Claudia Kulp said. “We’re thankful for all those who donated toward the drive.”
        Those donations were supplemented by food drives by area Boy Scouts and Upper Perkiomen High School’s branch of the National Honor Society, among many other welcomed individual contributions.
        The Open Line expects to provide Thanksgiving meals to more than 100 households this year, as the requests keep pouring in.
        “There are many families in the Upper Perkiomen Valley who are struggling to put food on the table, and without the support of this community they would not be able to afford a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We are grateful to everyone who donated turkeys and all of the fixings and the volunteers who helped to box and distribute them. Wherever and whenever there is a need, this community never fails to rise to the challenge so that no local family goes without,” said The Open Line counselor Linda Connell. “We are very thankful to work and live in a community that is committed to helping others not just at the holidays but all year-round.”
        For more information on The Open Line, visit, or call (215)679-4112.





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