America’s largest Irish organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) has documented assistance to over 700,000 people with Hibernian Hunger projects in the last year.
In recognition of this success, the AOH National Board will present 14 financial grants for the top Hibernian Hunger Projects during the 2020 pandemic year. Recipients of these awards include Division’s form: Connecticut, Illinois, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Three AOH Divisions received $1,000 Hibernian Hunger grants as a result of their Projects. One of these grants was presented to Division 5 AOH of Bucks County, PA. Division 5 began a food pantry six years ago in a building donated by four of its members, the food pantry was named HOPE 101.
HOPE 101 is used as a food storage facility and a venue where Division members prepare and serve dinner to the local homeless and needy. During the pandemic, due to government regulations, boxed meals were either prepared or purchased and these meals were picked up and delivered to the homeless and needy. Food from HOPE 101 is also delivered to local food banks in Bucks County on the first Wednesday of each month.
The Monsignor Lee Division 1 AOH of Elmira NY and the Father Flanagan Division 1 AOH in Omaha Nebraska each received a $1,000 Hibernian Hunger grant as well. The Monsignor Lee Division provided free hot lunches on weekends to school-aged children and their families. They also provided Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners, and food baskets to the less fortunate in the Elmira area during the holiday season. The Father Flanagan Division 1 AOH provided thousands of dollars in food to the Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Omaha and contributed over 1.75 tons of meat to food banks in the Omaha area, which included Heart Ministries, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and the Stephens Center.
Eleven AOH Divisions were selected to receive $500 Hibernian Hunger grants each. Division 16 of Passaic County, New Jersey worked with seven Native Indian organizations. The Native American Indian Organizations were provided with food along with other necessities by Division 16. The Indian groups that received included: the St. Labre Indian School in MT; St. Joseph Indian School in SD; St. Bonaventure Mission & Indian School in NM; Red Cloud Indian School in SD; Southwest Indian Foundation in NM; Southwest Reservation Aid in AZ; and the Native American Heritage Association in SD. Division 16 also provided food to Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson, NJ.
Saint Patrick Division 2 AOH in Babylon efforts included working with the Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, local parishes, food banks and soup kitchens in the local area. Division 39 of Philadelphia, PA provided Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners to those in need in the Philadelphia area, as well as assistance to the City of Philadelphia’s Food Warehouse and Transportation Center during the pandemic. The Father Donnelly Division 1 AOH in Kansas held monthly food collections, monetary donations, and its collaboration efforts with other groups to combat hunger for hundreds in the Johnson County area of Kansas. The Father Abram J. Ryan Division 1 AOH of Louisville, KY Hibernian Hunger Project had two initiatives: “Franciscan Kitchen” and “Feed the First”.
The Michael P. Keeley Division 1 of Saint Clair County in Illinois project was a cooperative effort with the citizens in Belleville, Illinois’s and O’Fallon Fairview Heights. Division 1 provided over 1800 food boxes, as well as utility support to 336 households in their community. The John C. Devereux Division 1 of Oneida, NY distributed over 2000 food boxes in conjunction with a drive run by the Food Banks of Central New York. Division 1’s financial contributions to this Food Bank provided $21,700.00 worth of food to feed people in need in this area.
The JFK Division 4 AOH of Huntington, NY provided food to churches in Huntington, Greenlawn, Northport and Centerport, NY, as well as to a soup Kitchen in Huntington Station, NY during 2020. AOH Division 3 of the District of Columbia worked with the Novitiate House of the SSVM in Upper Marlboro, MD. Division 3 contributed food supplies to the sisters at the Novitiate, among other items.
The Michael Collins Division 1 of Cumberland County, PA donated proceeds from their Saint Patrick’s Dinner, their Division treasury, and from their members to feed the Hungry in Central Pennsylvania. In all, Division 1’s donations to this food bank provided food to over 11,000 people.
Division 2 of Hartford, CT held monthly food drives in the Hartford area during 2020 provided food to over 500 families. A toy drive was also held by Division 2 in December to help make the Christmas season a little brighter for the children of many of these families!
As one can readily see during 2020, AOH Divisions throughout the US did a tremendous job using various approaches to tackle the problem of hunger in their communities. We know and expect these efforts to continue not only during 2021 but in succeeding years to come.
The Irish know all too well from the Great Hunger, which took place 175 years ago in Ireland, the importance of helping their fellow human beings in times of need. That is precisely why the AOH National Board and its’ Division have placed this issue front and center. The AOH and its members as it has since its founding back in 1836 are simply putting the great motto of the order into practice: Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity!