The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Sunday, Aug. 27, 2000

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    Rita Karing gives food for thought

    By Sherris Moreira-Byers
    Herald Staff Writer


    What you see is what you get, Rita Karing says when you meet her. But for many needy families in the valley, that's exactly who they want.

    Rita Karing, 68, has been the director of the food pantry for St. Joseph Church, Sharon, since its inception 13 years ago.

    "There had always been some sort of food pantry at the church, but there were so many people in need in the community, that the sisters here needed it to expand," Mrs. Karing explained.

    Her involvement goes back to an early childhood memory of men out of work during the Depression.

    "One of my earliest memories are men coming to our back door asking for food," she said. "My mom would always feed them, and my dad would sit out with them as they ate, while he drank his coffee."


    Rita Karing of Sharon sits in front of dozens of bags of groceries for the needy at the food pantry at St. Joseph Church in Sharon. Mrs. Karing started the pantry about 12 years ago and continues as its director. (Tiffany Wolfe/Herald)

    That memory had a strong effect on the lifetime Sharon resident.

    "People would call them hobos, but they were just men out of work, looking for work," Mrs. Karing said.

    That non-judgmental attitude, along with her remembrances of many families in her neighborhood feeding those inneed, is the reason being involved with the food pantry is so important to her.

    "I started as director 13 years ago, but there are so many people involved with this, and I'm just one," Mrs. Karing said. "This valley has many generous people in it."

    Her experience as a homemaker is a plus for the food pantry, because she knows how much work it takes to run a household.

    "I think its harder for people now. Back then, everyone was having hard times so it wasn't as embarrassing," Mrs. Karing said. "I think it's hardest for kids, especially when it seems like everyone has everything."

    Her concern for children also began a Christmas candle ministry, to buy needy kids toys for Christmas.

    "We wrap a paper with the child's request around a candle, and pass them out on the first Sunday in Advent," she said. "By midnight mass, the (300 to 400) candles are gone."

    The most important focus to Mrs. Karing are the people, and a lesson her father taught her, while her family unbegrudgingly fed those in need.

    "My father insisted that we invite people in to eat. They never would accept, so he would take his coffee and sit with them awhile," she said.

    "It was as though he understood what it would be like to be in that position. Of course my mom could never stand to see anyone hungry either," Mrs. Karing added.

    And its obvious that same belief has been instilled in her.

    "This is something that was always in me to do. But it isn't just feeding people food. It's feeding the whole person," Mrs. Karing said. "A smile and a hello are sometimes more important than food."

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