Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bethlehem Special Olympics sponsoring Christmas give-back project

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by Katie McDonald kmcdonald@tnonline.com in Sports

The Bethlehem Special Olympics athlete leadership team, along with their mentors, are sponsoring a Christmas time giveback project which will benefit local families hosting displaced families from Puerto Rico who lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“The [Bethlehem Area School] District and the Bethlehem community have always been very generous with their support of BSO,” said Fred Knauss, assistant manager and competition and events coordinator of Bethlehem City Special Olympics. “Our project this year is teaming up with the district to collect donations of food, canned goods, food gift cards, and frozen turkeys.

“We have also made arrangements for some of our athletes and parents to be part of a sorting and packing of these items at Northeast Middle School on Saturday, December 16th.”

Bethlehem Special Olympics members discussed wanting to help the hurricane victims, but not only is Puerto Rico over 1,000 miles away, the victims needed money, so it would not be feasible. However, the Bethlehem Area School District was expecting an influx of students from Puerto Rico at the time.

“Families were getting on planes to Bethlehem with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said Laura Neary, mentor for the Bethlehem Special Olympics leadership team. “Bethlehem Area School District did a donation in October.”

Now that Christmas is approaching, the concern is food for the week that schools will be closed for Christmas vacation, and that the 52 families from Puerto Rico, as well as their host families, would struggle over that period of time.

“A food drive seemed to fit perfectly,” Neary said.

Now, Bethlehem Special Olympics is giving back to the community it relies on for volunteers, funds, and sports facilities by providing food for the hurricane victims living in Bethlehem, as well as the families providing shelter and safety for them.

“It’s a win win win all the way around,” said Neary.

A drop-off for the public is being planned for a Tuesday evening in December at Liberty High School’s athletic entrance near the swimming pool.