Jan. 22—WINDBER, Pa. — Windber Area Community Kitchen has been serving free hot meals since 2009 and last year served 26,000 meals. That's many more hot meals than the 12,000 mealsthe kitchen serves in an average year, organizers said.
The upcoming Red Rose Community Ball is WACK's biggest fundraiser. But lagging ticket sales make it tough to keep feeding the community.
The annual Red Rose Ball draws 250 people on average. This year, ticket sales stand at about 100. Last year's Red Rose Ball was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People remain squeamish.
"Part of it is people are being hesitant about congregating," WACK board chairwoman Dr. Violette Eash said. "It's a sign of the times, financial and otherwise. We're doing what we can."
The Red Rose Ball will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Windber Community Building on Graham Avenue.
Tickets are $45 for an individual and $80 per couple. For ticket information, call 814-509-6551.
WACK serves meals two Saturdays a month. But during the height of the pandemic, meals were served daily, board member Dr. Joan Albright said.
Some 500 volunteers provide about 12,000 meals each year. In 2020, WACK served its 26,000 meals with about 400 volunteers, Albright said.
COVID-19 forced the group to serve take-out meals only.
"We were out there delivering meals in the rain and cold," she said. "We did everything we could to keep the meals hot. There were a lot of frozen fingers and toes."
WACK and Windber Area Elementary School have partnered in the WACKPack program, serving bags of nonperishable food items to school kids. The fallout from COVID-19 is increasing the need.
"We had to produce more than we usually do because children were home for greater lengths of time," Albright said.
WACK organizers hope the Red Rose Ball will provide enough revenue to keep the kitchen open.
"We need your help," Albright said. "(WACK) feeds a lot of people."