Volunteering to feed the poor and care for the hungry is a time-consuming and sometimes thankless job, with little public recognition and only the smile on the face of a small child or the look of gratitude in the eyes of a needy parent to hope for in return.
For the congregants of Resurrection Life Fellowship in Cheektowaga, that's reward enough for them to want to expand their food pantry mission and reach out to even more members of their community who are hungry.
Gregory Glovins, administrator of the church at 2145 Old Union Road, said: "Right now, we're only able to help those families that live within the 14227 ZIP code area.
"But we're hoping that, perhaps by the new year, we'll be able to help families in ZIP code 14224, parts of West Seneca, as well."
The 4-year-old food pantry, one of 20 in Erie County receiving the support of the Food Bank of Western New York, distributes food twice a month to more than 200 people in some 60 families in their community year-round.
They share the bounty of food made possible by the Food Bank with 400 agencies in Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Niagara Counties.
"We service a wide range of people," said Glovins, "from single parents with small children to the elderly. Referrals aren't necessary to receive our help. All they have to do is bring proof of their address and meet our guidelines on total household income."
He said that those who meet the qualification can come to the church from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month to receive help.
"Barbara Babcock is the program director," he said, "and because of the dedication of her and our senior pastor, the Rev. John Tonelli, interest in the food pantry has remained a high priority with our congregation of some 800 adults and 200 children."
He said they now hope to gear up their volunteer staff of some 20 church members to take on the challenge of expanding into a wider area.
"Whatever happens, it would not happen at all if it wasn't for the Food Bank. They've been wonderful with us, and they go out of their way to give us advice and help so that we can carry on with our program." he said.
As the 16th annual Summer Harvest to raise funds for the Food Bank nears an end, the needs of the hungry go on.
Over the last 15 years, the drive has raised $1,048,900 for the Food Bank to help pay the costs for services needed in the food distribution process at their warehouse at 91 Holt St.
The drive also helped in bringing in 140 million pounds of food from supermarket chains, manufacturers and farmers.
For the fourth year, Marine Midland, Fleet, Citibank, M&T, Key, Lockport Savings and Chase Manhattan banks are sharing in the collection process, and each time a consumer pays for groceries with a NYCE-ATM card, the banks contribute to the fund.
Every cent goes directly to the Food Bank. Checks may be mailed to Summer Harvest, 395, Buffalo 14226.