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Democratic Party Members Get Cooking for the Homeless

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Dec. 20, 2006 — The spirit of giving was in the air Wednesday as Democratic Party committee members took time out of their day to feed some of St. Croix's hungry and homeless at the Ann Heyliger Vegetable Market in Frederiksted.
In their second year feeding the less fortunate, party members took money from their own pockets to supply the food for the event. "It's Christmastime, a time of giving," said fund-raising chair Dorothy Joseph. "On Christmas day, we'll be eating, but we don't know what they'll be eating."
St. Croix District Chair Dodson James said the party wanted to have this feast during Thanksgiving and changed the time to Christmas. He said the support from party members was tremendous and "not like pulling teeth." James said there is more that can be done for the homeless around the island, like turning abandoned buildings into shelters for overnight stays.
Glen J. Smith, St. Thomas district chairman, said he was on the island and decided he would lend support to the St. Croix members. "What they are doing is noble," Smith said. "Whenever we have an event in St. Thomas, they are always around to support us and lend a hand."
Smith said the St. Thomas district is proud of its annual scholarship award given at the end of every school year. This year, Smith said, when party members paid their dues, $10 would be donated to the scholarship fund.
The beautiful early afternoon lit up with smiles from the recipients of the hot meal made in the kitchens of high-ranking political officials like Delegate Donna Christensen. Christensen used her day off to make potato stuffing and baked ham for the event. She came to the market ready to serve immediately after her arrival donning her apron and helping any way she could.
Lt. Gov.-elect Greg Francis immediately went into the heart of downtown Frederiksted, stopping in areas where he felt he could help spread the word that food was being served and no one was going to ask for money. Francis said he "firmly believes in the personal touch."
Francis credits his mother for his philanthropic heart. "The first plate of food from my mother's table used to go to the neighbor," said Francis, adding the spirit of giving was an everyday occurrence when he was growing up.
Although the party advertised the event through the media and at shelters like My Brother's Table, Francis said he stepped out into the town to talk to those who may not have been aware of the event. "The key to the whole thing is to talk to people," he said.
Although he has been living on the streets of Frederiksted for some time, homeless resident Kareem says the efforts of the community have been worthwhile. "I think the community is playing their part," he said. Answers like that echo from the lips of many of the residents who sampled the menu of salad, stuffing, barbeque chicken, baked ham, macaroni and cheese, and juices. Many simply said the food was good between bites.
To solve a problem like homelessness, Francis said, it is necessary to talk to those in the situation and find out what their needs are. "We don't want to make assumptions," he said. "We need to ask them: How can I help?"
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