'Who Can We Help?': Philly-area nonprofit supports 250 children this holiday

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Sunday, December 11, 2022
'Who Can We Help?': Philly-area nonprofit supports 250 children
9-year-old Julian Polk is thankful for more than just the early Christmas gift that was donated to him.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Who Can We Help?" is the name of a Philadelphia-area nonprofit that asks the question in its namesake each year during the winter holidays.

It started with just a small effort to donate a few turkeys during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday. Since then, it has grown into an annual gathering where volunteers pool their resources to help those in need.

"It basically started as a Facebook post, going to Facebook group, just trying to help local families with Thanksgiving and Christmas," said founder Daniel Gilman. "And over time, it just grew to the point where we felt like we needed to become a nonprofit."

One such recipient of a gift donation was 9-year-old Julian Polk. He and his mother lost everything in a house fire last year.

"To the people who did give me a gift, you're really kind," he said. "And when I grow up, I'm gonna try and help the people who can't help themselves."

Daniel Gilman befriended the family last year following the tragedy. But they are just a fraction of the "Who Can We Help?" Story.

Gilman grew up in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and specifically wanted to target underserved areas with his volunteerism. While the effort has grown to all of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, he always makes certain to lend a hand in places like St. Mark's Church in Frankford.

"Back in the day, this church, which seats 880 people, would have been filled front to back," said its Senior Warden Cristina Mancini. "And we know that we'll never go back to the days of the church being filled in that way, but our church is full of volunteers."

Among the various social programs housed under its roof, St. Mark's facilitates the "adoption" of many local families during the holiday season. Gilman and his crew provided food and toy donations to more than 60 of those people this year.

But that's only counting the folks at St. Mark's Church.

"This year, the total number of kids we were helping was at 250," said Gilman. "So, we shut down requests because we wanted to make sure we can provide gifts for all those families that we have."

Still, 'Who Can We Help?' encourages donations and family sponsorships to make future donations into realities.

To learn more about "Who Can We Help?" and to ask the question yourself, visit their Facebook page.

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