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Amid pandemic, M&T Bank's 'Gift of Warmth' campaign takes on added urgency

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Thu, Nov 26th 2020 07:00 am

M&T teams with The Salvation Army, Buffalo Bills to gather winter clothing items for local families financially impacted by COVID-19

M&T Bank announced its “Gift of Warmth” campaign, the region’s longest-running warm clothing collection program, is open and running through Jan. 8, 2021. At all of M&T’s 64 area branches, Western New Yorkers can donate new gloves, mittens, scarves, hats and coats for local children and adults.

“As the region continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are experiencing economic hardships that may force them to make difficult financial decisions and prioritize other needs ahead of purchasing necessary winter clothing to stay warm in the months ahead,” said Jim Jarosz, M&T Bank Group vice president for retail banking in Western New York. “At a time like this, we can’t let our neighbors bear the brunt of Buffalo’s cold alone. We’re encouraging the City of Good Neighbors to come together once again to make a difference through the ‘Gift of Warmth’ campaign.”

This year, the “Gift of Warmth” turns 35 years old. In 1985, M&T Bank employees held the first campaign to encourage their co-workers to donate warm outerwear for families served by The Salvation Army. It has now grown into a communitywide initiative that collects thousands of winter clothing items every year.

As in previous years, M&T will work alongside The Salvation Army and the Buffalo Bills to drive the success of the campaign. The Salvation Army will facilitate the delivery of donated goods to local families in need, and the Bills plan to execute creative promotional efforts to urge the community to get involved.

“This pandemic has tested all of us. Many of us have contracted the virus ourselves and fought through recovery, and many of us have lost loved ones. Its harsh economic effects have also brought additional challenges to many local families who may have already been struggling financially. Initiatives like M&T Bank’s ‘Gift of Warmth’ can help fulfil a critical need, especially in a city that experiences severe winters like Buffalo,” said Maj. Annette Lock, director of operations for The Salvation Army of Buffalo. “We hope our neighbors will support this year’s campaign and help ensure children and families have the warm winter clothing they need.”

“For many years, Bills fans have stepped up to help our neighbors in need during M&T Bank’s ‘Gift of Warmth’ campaign. This year, that need is as great as ever and we’re working hard to raise awareness across our platforms, and finding new ways to encourage our fans to make a difference,” said Dan Misko, Pegula Sports & Entertainment’s senior vice president of business development. “We’re always amazed by our community’s generosity – and with the needs our region is facing today, we can’t wait to see Bills fans and Western New Yorkers step up yet again.”

Donations can be dropped off at any of the 64 M&T branches throughout Western New York. Branches in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties are participating. Most branch lobbies are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and customers now have the option to make appointments, if preferred. To find the nearest branch and its hours of operation, or to book an appointment, visit https://locations.mtb.com.

In addition to the “Gift of Warmth” campaign, many M&T Bank employees and their families are participating in a virtual toy drive to brighten the holiday season for local children. The initiative will also provide an extra boost to three local small businesses: Clayton’s Toys in Williamsville, The TreeHouse on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and Toy Loft in East Aurora. M&T employees will be asked to purchase gifts through one of those stores online, over the phone or in-person, and the store will deliver it directly to The Salvation Army to be given to local kids.

The Salvation Army has been supporting those in need without discrimination since 1865. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in nearly 9,000 communities nationwide.

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