At Hearts, outreach continues on well after the holidays are over, especially since the winter months and cold weather are still upon us. Hearts for the Homeless provides warm clothing and accessories to those in need both onboard the Hearts Mobile Soup Kitchen and in the Hearts Thrift Store. Since the start of 2020, there has been an even greater need for food and clothing, increasing from 14,000 individuals served in 2019 to more than 57,000 individuals in 2020.
The Hearts Harvest Food Pantry is also a new program we began in December of 2019, and during COVID we were able to provide bagged groceries and meal kits to more than 20,170 individuals in Western New York in 2020. We intend to keep up with this program and feed even more families this year.
Help us clothe those in need by donating new or gently used clothing, blankets, socks, and more at one of our many donation bins. You can also help by donating non-perishable goods. Our Amazon Wishlist makes it easy to donate our most immediate needs. Your help is appreciated during the holiday season but we urge you to think of the homeless year-round.
In order to provide outreach, transportation, shelter, and a warm meal to Buffalo’s homeless population during freezing cold nights, the city of Buffalo created the emergency weather safety plan, “Code Blue.” When temperatures drop below freezing, or between the dates of November 15th and April 30th, Code Blue houses the homeless overnight with a mandatory “bring in” to a warming shelter if a person experiencing homelessness is found outside.
Hearts for the Homeless is partnering with Code Blue by sending meals to feed those who are housed at the warming shelters during COVID and CODE BLUE. Throughout the pandemic and during Code Blue, we have been providing between 250 and 350 additional meals per week to Holy Cross, Harbor House, and Little Portion Friary. We plan to continue this contribution throughout 2021 and longer if necessary. You can help us feed those in need by donating money or needed food items.
All are welcome at the Code Blue warming shelters. To benefit from a warming center, walk into a location or meet at the NFTA Bus Station for transportation to the shelter. You can also text CodeBlueBuffalo to 898-211 to opt-in to receive a notification text message when Code Blue is called for the City of Buffalo. The locations of overnight shelters operating from 8pm to 8am and warming centers that operate during the daytime hours change annually. The best ways to find a location is on the news, in the newspaper, on Facebook, and via 211. If you see or know of someone who needs shelter during cold weather, call 211. Code Blue is funded by the City of Buffalo, Erie County, National Fuel, and Rich Products and is also supported by a collaboration of agencies under the WNYCFTH.