There was plenty of evidence Wednesday that Buffalo police officers and firefighters have generous hearts.
Two days after a young boy who recently lost his mother was the recipient of gifts presented to his relatives at Buffalo Police Headquarters, police and firefighters gathered Wednesday at headquarters to donate nearly $30,000 to charitable causes.
Members of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association wrote an $18,860 check to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The amount represented donations made by 320 police officers and supervisors and the PBA’s match-for-each contribution. The fundraiser was dubbed “No-Shave November,” which allowed police who participated to grow beards in exchange for a donation of $25 or more.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda had suspended the clean-shaven work rule because the event was for charity.
Community Police Lt. Steven Nichols said, “This was for a good cause and it brought management and the union together.”
A second fundraiser also culminated at headquarters on Wednesday with members of the PBA and the Buffalo Professional Firefighters, Local 282 presenting checks for $3,390 and $7,730, respectively, to Western New York Heroes’ Adopt-A-Veteran For Christmas program.
PBA President Kevin Kennedy credited Ferry-Fillmore District officers Lucia Esquilin and Patrick Baggott with organizing the effort.
“Neither officer was a member of the military, but they put in so much effort on behalf of people who really need the help at this time of year,” Kennedy said.
Thomas P. Barrett, president of the firefighters union, also thanked the officers for contacting his union so that they could participate in making the holidays a better time for veterans in need.
Accepting the checks, Chris Kreiger, president of WNY Heroes, said, “Having the support of Buffalo police and Buffalo firefighters will truly help us continue to support our veterans at this time of year. Our vets go off to defend the country and many come back and can’t afford to give their families a Christmas.”
The police officers collected an additional $1,391 to buy gifts that will be distributed to the families of three veterans in the city on Friday.
As for 4-year-old Bryan Keith Allen Jr., who was found home alone with his dead mother, members of the community are still passing along gifts to police for the boy in the hopes that it will brighten his first Christmas without his mother.
Bryan thought his mother was sleeping and spent at least two days alone with his mother’s body in their East Delavan Avenue apartment, surviving on maple syrup and milk. Shaleena Hamilton, 43, had died of natural causes. But her body wasn’t discovered until Dec. 4, when Taijuan Littleton, a Rent-A-Center employee, visited the residence for a previously scheduled appointment.