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City Mission faces daunting task

The Buffalo City Mission this year is relying more heavily than ever on the generosity of individual donors.

Officials with the nonprofit agency Tuesday said they sought to raise $2.5 million in the organization's annual fall appeal -- about $1 million more than usually sought through the "Restore Hope, Dignity and Lives" campaign.

"It definitely is a hefty goal," said Aubrey Calhoun, spokeswoman for the mission.

But mission officials have few other options, as two grants totaling $550,000 expired this year and need for the agency's services grows due to the economic crisis, Calhoun said.

"Obviously, it's a huge concern because of the crisis in our community, not just Buffalo, but globally," she said. "We don't have a choice. We're going to be seeing hundreds more individuals coming through our doors because of the crisis."

The agency's men's shelter was unusually busy over the summer -- a normally slower time for the mission.

Typically, fewer than 100 men spend overnights in the shelter at 100 E. Tupper St. This summer, an average of 175 to 190 men occupied the shelter, which also served 600 to 800 meals per day between the men's shelter and Cornerstone Manor, where women and children receive temporary housing.

"It's a huge increase so far, and the cold winter months haven't even hit," she said. "We're seeing people that have lost their homes due to the mortgage crisis."

The private donations will cover less than half of the City Mission's budget for 2008-09, expected to be about $5.5 million.

e-mail: jtokasz@buffnews.com

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