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Response to the start of the eighth annual Summer Harvest drive was swift.

The first days' cash collections to help the Food Bank of Western New York continue its food distribution was $1,885.

Notes that accompanied some gifts expressed straight-forward sentiments. A Blasdell resident sent a check "in gratitude for my many blessings."

From its warehouse at 91 Holt St., the Food Bank collects, stores and distributes food to 320 agencies in Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Niagara counties. The 1989 Summer Harvest gifts supplied just over $100,000, about 10 percent of agency's budget.

This year's drive, scheduled to continue through July and August, is headed by Thomas R. Heine, president of the Buffalo Division of the S.M. Flickinger Co., food wholesalers.

Checks may be mailed to Summer Harvest, Box 395, Buffalo, 14226.

"Like others, I was moved at our annual meeting when Helen Urban, the evening speaker, told about the little girl who couldn't remember when she had last eaten," Heine said. "That such conditions occur stuns me. It should not happen, but does. The Summer Harvest gifts we receive will reduce the likelihood of that happening to other boys and girls."

Some 320 different church and civic agencies throughout the four counties help prevent that kind of hunger. Through the efforts of volunteers and paid staff, the Food Bank this year expects to distribute about 12 million pounds of food. Some will be redistributed free in grocery bags to residents who live near the recipient agencies. A lesser amount will be cooked and served through food kitchens.

The other morning the Community Action Intake Center at 485 Best St. picked up 2,591 pounds of bread, biscuits, English muffins, cereal, pizza, pasta sauce, ice cream and cookies. The driver for the Jewish Family Service of 70 Barker St. came away with 585 pounds of bread, crackers, cottage cheese and soy sauce. The Town Gardens Tenant Association of 35 Echols Lane received 1,959 pounds of cereal, crackers, potato salad, ice cream, pizza and ice tea.

"Virtually all of that food was donated by local and national food handlers," Heine said. "The Summer Harvest drive brings us -- the food industry, the people who give cash and the recipients -- together.

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