For more than a decade, Catholic Charities of Buffalo has been one of 18 local agencies whose clients benefit from the Annual Thanksgivige Turkey Basket Project, spearheaded by North Presbyterian Church in Williamsville. And 2019 is no different. This year, 60 more families assisted by several area Catholic Charities food pantries will enjoy a full-course Thanksgiving dinner because of the collaboration of North Presbyterian, and Temple Beth Zion and Congregation Shir Shalom (formerly Temple Beth Am), both in Buffalo. Catholic Charities’ Maintenance Supervisor David Gabamonte and maintenance worker Andre Bridges, assisted by two food pantry volunteers loaded the dinners and transported them Sunday to the Bishop Edward U. Kmiec Food Pantry and Outreach in South Buffalo.
According to Eileen Nowak, Catholic Charities director of parish outreach and advocacy, the dinners will be “distributed among the agency’s nine food pantry locations, wherever the need is greatest.”
Cindy Adams of North Presbyterian, who has been involved with the interfaith project for 16 years, credits North ministry leaders Tim and Debbie Hutton, Chris Cohan and Sharron Froman from Temple Beth Zion, and student volunteers from Williamsville East High School for having all the meals sorted, boxed, bagged and ready for pick-up Sunday.
In addition, the students conducted a food drive which greatly increased the quantity of donated goods. Area grocers provided discounted turkeys for purchase with cash donations. All told, 525 meals plus additional canned goods were prepared for distribution among the partner agencies and ultimately to local families in need.
This year marks the 34th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Basket Project has grown significantly through the years, according to Adams.
“In our first year we collected enough for 10 complete dinners,” she said. “And for the past several years, we’ve kept it between 500 and 550.”
“It was a tiring weekend, but a rewarding one, for all involved,” she added.
“The families who are helped through this effort are most appreciative,” said Dennis C. Walczyk, Catholic Charities President and CEO. “The work of these congregations helps to fulfill a great nutritional need in our communities and most importantly demonstrates care and concern for those in need across the faiths.”