Weekly Feature



2017-08-10 / Front Page

Special delivery: Donor gifts truck to Resurrection Life food pantry

by BRYAN JACKSON
Editor


Louie Gallo, a volunteer with Resurrection Life Food Pantry, gives Samson, the pantry’s new 18-foot box truck, a once-over after it was unveiled to the congregation following Sunday morning’s service. Louie Gallo, a volunteer with Resurrection Life Food Pantry, gives Samson, the pantry’s new 18-foot box truck, a once-over after it was unveiled to the congregation following Sunday morning’s service. When Resurrection Life Food Pantry Director Kim Reynolds got a call about six weeks ago from an anonymous donor looking to fill some of the pantry’s needs, she rattled through a few possibilities.

Additional shelving for the pantry would be nice. A couple of new dollies and trollies for loading and unloading donations would be helpful, too, she told him.

The reply she heard from the would-be donor on the other end of the phone was unexpected: laughter.

What were the real needs, he asked, and immediately, Reynolds thought much, much bigger.

“When we mentioned that we needed this 18-foot box truck to help us carry about 14,000 pounds a week and take food into the community, he said, ‘OK. That’s no big deal,’” Reynolds said.

The offer was shocking. Was the donor even real, Reynolds had wondered.

Twelve hours later, she had her answer, when the pantry, part of Resurrection Life Church, received another call, this time from a local car dealership. They were told to build a truck fitting Resurrection Life’s exact specifications.

“Of course, mouths dropped open,” Reynolds said. “Two days later, they brought us a truck to look at and asked us what we needed on it.”

Congregants got their first look at the truck, dubbed “Samson,” after Sunday morning’s service, as a South Line Fire Department engine pulled away to reveal the vehicle in the parking lot. The truck, they saw, seemed destined to mirror the legendary strength of the Biblical Samson.

Good thing, too, considering Reynolds wasn’t kidding about the approximately 6 tons of donations per week the pantry team helps distribute to some of Cheektowaga’s least food secure.

The truck is equipped with a rear lift gate, backup camera and spotlight, not to mention the food pantry’s logo and mission statement — “We’ll stop when hunger stops” — plastered on its exterior. It was a gift that would have required the food pantry to claw for the limited grant funds available to Western New York’s nearly innumerable service agencies or embark on a multi-year fundraising drive.

“Here we are, a faith-based church; we sort of had to take God out of a box. He took himself out of a box, and he said, ‘You know what? We’re not doing it your way. We’re going to do it my way,’” Reynolds said.

Whatever the way, the result was a boon for the pantry, which serves residents in the 14225 and 14227 ZIP codes. More and more, Cheektowagans who rely on help from Resurrection Life need a way to either get to the pantry or have the pantry come to them, Reynolds said.

“We knew that we could no longer sit inside a building and meet the needs. We had to take the food pantry into the community,” she said.

Currently, the pantry partners with groups such as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, Journey’s End Refugee Services Inc. and Cheektowaga Senior Services, bringing donations to veterans in crisis, newly arriving refugees and homebound seniors. With Samson now in Resurrection Life’s stable, that mission is now much easier.

The pantry’s mobile food team started collecting donations with the truck from business partners such as Walmart earlier this week, and tonight, volunteers will use Samson for deliveries for the first time, taking food to Williamstown Village Senior Apartments, one of several senior housing complexes Resurrection Life services.

The pantry, located at 2145 Old Union Road, distributes food from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and from 6 to 8 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month. Additionally, emergency assistance can be arranged by calling 656-8995 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by stopping in during an open distribution.

email: bjackson@beenews.com

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