Bringing Christmas Joy to Those Without A Home
On Christmas Eve when the buses pull up to 286 Lafayette Ave on Buffalo’s West Side and the guests walk into the building, many are shy and apprehensive. Living homeless over time can cause most to be overly cautious. But when they see the volunteers greet them and wish them Merry Christmas, their looks of bewilderment very quickly turn to smiles.
The guests take a seat at the beautifully decorated tables as they are welcomed to the annual Christmas Eve dinner; a decades-long partnership between Hearts and the Buffalo Dream Center. The guests start to let their guard down and they join in with the laughter. They cheer gleefully for those who won raffle prizes and when they are asked to stand for the “Ice Breaker”, hardly anyone is seated. Guests and volunteers dance to the “Cupid Shuffle” as the music plays from the speakers. It’s quite a sight to see, dozens of people from every walk of life dance and laugh together.
After everyone takes their seats Pastor Eric Johns of the Buffalo Dream Center shares a message of salvation and invites anyone to the front to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Tears of joy flow from both those receiving prayer and onlookers alike. When the service is over, dinner is served and the smell of fresh lasagna fills the air. Looking around the room you can hardly tell that most of these people who came in were strangers. Without context, one might believe it was a large family dinner and in fact, it is!
Dinner finishes, and people make their way back to the buses, volunteers say their goodbyes to their new friends and send them with a bag of Christmas cookies; which is one of the many contributions from the Hearts donors and volunteers.
As the tables begin to be cleared, as a volunteer, you are left feeling a deep sense of fulfillment that God used you to touch the lives of people who are often forgotten. Even though the meal will only sustain them for a night, the memories will last a lifetime.
From Hearts Kitchen
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter.” ~Isaiah 58:7
Total Clients Served at Library: 936
Hot Meals Made for Homeless Shelters: 1,600
Meal Bags Made for Buffalo Dream Center Outreach: 400
Hearts Harvest Food Pantry
In the month of October we celebrated the one year anniversary of the Hearts Harvest Food Pantry. It’s been a wonderful year serving our community with food, friendship and the love of Christ!
Within the first year of the Hearts Harvest Food Pantry, we have served 158,202 meals to 13,338 people. Those meals go to infants, seniors and everyone in between!
Hearts Mobile Food Pantry
In addition to the regular foods that our clients look forward to each month, we also handed out Bombas socks, soap sacks, and Wegman’s bread during October’s Hearts Mobile Pantry.
October was the last month for the Mobile Food Pantry in 2022 and it was a successful 10 months serving 2,489 people; an average of 249 people every month! Thank you to our YMCA volunteers.