By Joshua Maloni
Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen owner Michael Hibbard led a charge this week to provide turkeys to the Ransomville Care-n-Share Food Pantry - just in time for Thanksgiving pickup.
Hearing the organization had less than a half-dozen turkeys to provide to 100 or more families in need, Hibbard reached out to the Lewiston and River Region community. In little time, the flightless holiday birds came flying into the hamlet.
Hibbard learned of Care-n-Share while preparing to host the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce dinner on Nov. 29. Initially, he was going to sell a special drink as a fundraiser for the food pantry.
"As I was thinking about it, I said, 'Let me let me get a hold of somebody over there.' And I actually got a hold of (board member) Lori (Adamson). Lori said, 'You've got to come by, take a look at the Care-n-Share Food Pantry and the Wear-n-Share, which is located at Lewiston-Porter, and take a tour; see what we're all about.' And we ended up coming here last weekend," Hibbard said Friday. "Ellie (Murphy), who is the main person here, said 'We have two or three turkeys and we're going to get roaster chickens.' So, as soon as she said that, I'm like, 'I gotta do something.'
"Monday morning, I made a couple phone calls to people. Melissa Morinello was a driving force. She helped me out substantially. And then Latinas, I linked with them. They gave us all the turkeys at cost - and then they also donated turkeys, as well. And countless businesses in Lewiston have donated; in our community, family and friends."
"My goal was 100. We ended up just actually doing a final count. We raised about $3,200 in two days, which was more than enough to buy the hundred turkeys. One-hundred and ten turkeys were delivered here today, and they still have a surplus that we can push through till Christmas."
Adamson said, "It's beyond belief to have all of this come with just a thought of, 'Oh my gosh, they probably won't all get turkeys.' The movement was like a snowball.
"You know, people just want to help. People really do. They have very kind hearts. And the one girl put it on her Facebook page as like a birthday challenge. She was going to be 37, and she goes, 'I'd like to get 37 turkeys for the food pantry.' And I think she got that, plus a lot more donations on top of that."
She explained, "Chickens are nice. That's what we could get from the Food Bank. But at the same time, it's Thanksgiving, and you like to have your family (together), and turkeys go with Thanksgiving.
"It's just been beyond belief. Like, I mean, the other night I was just in tears that this could happen."
Adamson said she was blown away by Hibbard's efforts.
"I just have to stand back and watch God at work here, because this guy has done what we always wanted - a connection in Lewiston. Because I don't think people knew we were here; and now they know, and we're getting donations like crazy. So, we can't thank him enough," she said. "He's going to be putting bins in the businesses. He's done all this design work; he's got it on Facebook. The word is out. I said, 'We're finally on the map!' "
Those bins Adamson referenced are part two of Hibbard's plan.
"We're doing a Christmas drive, which will start the week after Thanksgiving," he said. "All the totes that were donated by Modern will be in businesses in and around the Lewiston area for dry food goods and toiletries. And then that's going to be all donated back to the Care-n-Share, as well."
Hibbard said, "We've been fortunate, my family and friends, that we're able to take those things for granted. When you see people that volunteer here, like Ellie and Lori and the countless other people that I've talked to, it really hits home, and you want to help out as much as you possibly can."
Turkey donations also came from Northeast Landscape Company, Metro Environmental, Larry Elia, local businesses and family and friends in the community.
Volunteers distributed turkeys on Friday.
Ransomville's Care-n-Share Food Pantry Operations Manager Ellie Murphy holds one of the 110 turkeys donated this week to families in need.
Share in the care: Help Ransomville food pantry serve less-fortunate
Submitted by Melissa Morinello
Sparkle Marketing & Events
On behalf of Care-n-Share Food Pantry
It's not just about being hungry. Today, being hungry sometimes means not knowing where your next meal is coming from or if there will be enough for the whole family.
The Care-n-Share Food Pantry was started in 2010 and currently serves roughly 320 individuals a month. Their services are based to meet the needs of individuals and families in the communities of Lewiston, Youngstown, Sanborn, Wilson, Ransomville and Cambria, including: providing nutritional cooking classes; encouraging reading through the distribution of books to children; providing access to quality clothing through the distribution of new and used clothing to community members; operation of a community garden; offering guidance and mentoring concerning daily financial management; parenting; marriage and other life issues; as well as operating a food pantry. Particularly at this time of the year, as the holidays nip at our heels, the food supply runs low and needs a major restock, according to Ellie Murphy, operations manager.
A "It takes our village" nonperishable food drive will begin on Black Friday and run throughout the villages of Lewiston and Youngstown to help fill the pantry shelves. Businesses will have Modern Corporation recycle bins available for community members to drop off nonperishable food items, which will be picked up through the week of Christmas and delivered to the Care-n-Share Food Pantry.
The pantry is in need of personal products such as razors, shaving cream, deodorant, women's sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste. As for food items, Murphy said ramen noodles, boxes of pasta or rice, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, peanut butter, tuna, canned pineapple, tomato soup, beef stew, mac and cheese, as well as instant oatmeal, are particularly in demand.
Money, too, is more than welcomed. Donations can be dropped off to the pantry at 3768 Ransomville Road, Ransomville, when it is open on Tuesdays (3:30-5:30 p.m.), Thursdays (5:30-8 p.m.) or Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Checks can be made out to Inter-Community Services and mailed to P.O. Box 401, Ransomville, NY 14131.
Donated items also can be dropped off at: Hibbard's Liquors, Orange Cat Coffee Co., The Brickyard Pub & B.B.Q., Tin Pan Alley, BBC, You & Me Boutique, Lewiston Event Center, Inspirations on Canvas, Knead the Dough, The Youngstown Galley, Village Fitness and Frenchy's Pizza.
"We are so fortunate and cannot thank the community enough," Murphy said. "Without the caring residents, and village businesses that have reached out to donate, we'd never be able to do what we do. As they say, 'It takes a village,' and we are so lucky to be in such a community that is so willing to reach out and help those less fortunate residing in our own backyards."