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Red Hat Society ladies make big donation to Caring for Friends

Steve Schiavone, Patty McCarthy.
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The ladies of the Red Hat Society were back at Caring for Friends last week, assembling breakfast bags for shut-ins, the homeless and people who need temporary aid.

The Red Hat Society, made up of more than a dozen women 50 and older, have been donating the bags to Caring for Friends (formerly Aid for Friends), 12271 Townsend Road, for the last 15 years.

The ladies might not have been wearing red hats and outfits, but they were filling the bags with plenty of goodies in assembly-line fashion.

The bags included fruit juice, oatmeal, hot chocolate mix, crackers, candy, cookies and a note to the recipients. Also, Girl Scout Troop 71147, based at Queen of Angels Elementary School in Willow Grove, donated 500 packets of applesauce.

The ladies did their shopping at the Warminster Costco, and they didn’t mind that the bill was a lot higher than normal.

“We wanted to give them as much as we could,” said Patty McCarthy.

This year’s gathering was extra special for the social group, as it marked a year since the passing of member Cathy Carnila Britt, known for her kindness and generosity. Britt, a lifelong Torresdale resident and parishioner at St. Katherine of Siena, died after a brief bout with liver cancer.

The results speak for themselves.

“They usually do 200 bags, this year they did 540,” said Michelle Maddox, Britt’s niece.

Other family members on hand were Maddox’s daughter, Amelia; Lisa Britt, Cathy’s daughter; Cathy’s sisters, Diane Harrington and Linda Maddox, and Maddox’s husband, Stanley.

“She loved this group,” Lisa said of her mom.

Cathy and McCarthy became friends on the first day of high school at Archbishop Ryan. They were members of the class of 1972, the maid of honor at each other’s wedding and godmother to each other’s oldest child. And they were members of the Red Hat Society, going to the movies and out to dinner in addition to the charitable aspect.

“Cathy was so loved in our group,” McCarthy said. “She was very generous, kind and caring.”

Steve Schiavone, director of community service outreach at Caring for Friends, was appreciative of the donation.

“They brought their own food, and it was good food,” he said.

His agency, founded 46 years ago, will deliver many of the bags, along with a home-cooked meal, to the needy. Also, Caring for Friends works with about 70 food cupboards, which pick up the food at the Townsend Road warehouse.

On average, Caring for Friends distributes 10,000 pounds of food per week.

“Without volunteers,” Schiavone said, “we could never do it.”

McCarthy said the Red Hat Society ladies could write a check, but prefer packaging the goods on site.

“It makes you feel good,” she said. “You know you’re doing good, helping someone and maybe making a difference in their lives.” ••

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