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MITZVAH DAY BRINGS PEOPLE OF FAITH TOGETHER

Christians and Jews performed a good deed Sunday at Buck's Station, a special bus stop next to the Muslim mosque on Fillmore Avenue.

When they were done, three neighborhood men sat in the shade of the linden trees at Buck's Station and remembered John "Buck" Maye, 47, who was struck and killed there by a car nearly five years ago.

Maye was known for keeping the neighborhood tidy.

And that's just what about 500 volunteers were doing during the fourth annual Mitzvah Day, when good deeds are done together by members of Temple Beth Zion, Westminster Presbyterian Church and Masjid Nu'Man.

But a mitzvah is more than just a good deed among Jews. It's following a divine command to better the whole community.

Upstairs in the mosque, Carol Shaheed talked about how members of the three faiths removed weeds and debris from the bus stop and were now watering freshly planted flowers in outdoor pots.

"Well, it's fun, and it's a learning experience," she said. "Everybody has a different way of doing things, but you realize you are more alike than you are different. We're all human and are all apt to make mistakes. We should take the smallest mistake and bring something positive out of it."

Imam Fajri Ansari added: "I believe that if Mohammed and Jesus and Moses were here today, they wouldn't be fighting but working together for those most in need."

At Vive La Casa on Wyoming Avenue, Jo Schweitzer of Beth Zion and Patty Fennie of Westminster were directing a dozen volunteers of all ages. They focused on the children of refugees staying here while seeking political asylum. While the adults filled small swim pools and served lunch for the children, the young teens did arts and crafts with them.

"The whole East Side is a mystery to most people," Schweitzer said. "Today we had a lot of interaction."

Nathan Kowalski, 12, from Westminster, was among the hardest workers among the 30 volunteers who came to Martin Luther King Park to weed the shrub garden at the entrance to the Buffalo Museum of Science. He was pushing a heavy wheelbarrow loaded with mulch.

"It's heavy," he said during a rare break under the hot sun. "This is my third year."

He would have said more, but two other teens were asking him for instructions, and off he went.

Other good deeds were performed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 30 sites, including the Weinberg Campus in Getzville.

e-mail: acardinale@buffnews.com

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