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Buffalo Healthy Living: Can the needy be found in Buffalo’s ‘burbs?

BUFFALO HEALTHY LIVING

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Sitting under a tree like an oversized bird house, the shelves brimming with pasta, peanut butter, and a loaf of white sandwich bread, the Blessings Box awaits the next anonymous guest.

Earlier that day, Orchard Park Presbyterian parishioner Michele Pellette replenished the little pantry.  She walked in to the vestibule adjacent to the box and said a cheery good morning to Pastor Richard Young.  “All filled up,” she boasted, “hope it holds out a couple more days!”

No sooner did Pellette utter these words, when a sedan pulled up and a young lady stepped out to help herself.  Excited, Pellette made a bee-line for the vehicle.  Helping her guest pick out her family’s next repast.

“If it wasn’t for the Blessing Box, I would have starved,” the young lady muttered”.

Reluctant to pry into a private life, Pellette encouraged the woman to come back whenever needed.  “You can join us on Sunday, if you’d like, our church will help you in any way possible!”

The lady pulled the car door closed with a faint “thank you”.  Perhaps she will be back, but likely not.  Pellette knows that many of these urban poor try to keep their plight to themselves….they often appear at night, stocking up on some staples and slipping off into the darkness.

Such is a typical day at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church Blessing Box.

It was the brainchild of Pellette that established the idea two years ago this September.  Pastor Young encouraged her, saying that the needy reside everywhere, even in the Village of Orchard Park.

The Blessings Box has gone through lots of pasta, jars of peanut butter, bags of rice, and boxes of mac ‘n cheese in the two years it has sat in the parking lot at 4369 S. Buffalo Street, near the main intersection in the village.

Pellette estimates that this little store has given a boost or even a last-ditch meal to many people since she had a handy neighbor build it for her.

“It’s amazing how much we’ve gone through.  I tell people that Orchard Park has needy people and they don’t believe it till I tell them the stories that have unfolded since the Blessings Box was installed,” said Pellette.

Like the parable of the loaves and fishes, she believes that there will always be a source to donate what’s needed to fill the box.  She does worry a little bit, though, not wanting the next sedan to pull up and be turned away.

Donations of peanut butter, jelly, rice, pasta, macaroni and cheese box dinners, and other non-perishable items are especially welcomed.  Pellette said these may be dropped off at the church at 4369 S. Buffalo Street or call the church at 716-662-9348 to pick them up. 

“We even take gift cards to grocery stores and go out and buy items for the box. Pet food is also needed.”