WILKES-BARRE TWP. — No steak, chicken or seafood — just the essentials of living.
Thanks to an anonymous donor who won a $500 shopping spree at Wegmans, Ruth's Place homeless shelter for women in Wilkes-Barre was the recipient of this charitable donation.
During a three-minute blitz through the aisles, Ruth's Place Case Manager Jackie Tona and a team of helpers loaded three shopping carts with items totaling $637.92. Dave Grossi, Wegman's store manager, said the difference will be picked up by the store.
The carts were filled with laundry detergents, cleaning supplies, paper products, plastic bags, coffee, milk, ibuprofen, and pain relief products.
Kristen Topolski, executive director at Ruth's Place, thanked the donor, United Way, and Wegmans and said the products will help tremendously.
“Typically someone might go for the meats or other foods,” she said. “We need these items to operate our center.”
Topolski said Ruth's place has been at full capacity — 21 residents — for months.
“As soon as a bed opens, we have someone to fill it,” she said.
Tona, 29, from Exeter, said she prepared a list of items the women at the center need.
“I got everything on my list,” she said. “I shop here, so I know where everything is.”
So why all the ibuprofen and pain relief items?
“We have 21 women at the center,” she said. “That's a lot of headaches, cramps, and aches and pains. Some of it is for the staff as well. It can get pretty hectic there.”
Topolski said the center gets quite a bit of food donations on a weekly basis.
“The stuff we got today is really needed,” she said.
Bill Jones, president/CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley, said the donor insisted on remaining anonymous.
“To give up this kind of gift for people in need is a wonderful reflection of our community,” Jones said.
Grossi said Wegmans is a huge supporter of the United Way.
“This anonymous donation is amazing and we're proud to be a part of it,” he said.
Tona was helped by Crystal Williams, resident adviser at Ruth's Place, and center residents Brenna Rucker, 25, and Amanda Reyes, 24, who helped push the filled carts.
Ruth's Place is the only emergency shelter for homeless women in Luzerne County. Since 2003, Ruth's Place has provided emergency shelter and services for more than 1,513 women, representing some 31,739 nights of lodging. Topolski said 86 women were placed in permanent housing in 2012 and 39 more in transitional housing.