Around the holidays, the Public Safety department has been giving back in a big way.
Over the past few weeks, the officers of the afternoon shift have been doing drop-offs of food for families in need to Upper Room Church of God in Christ, on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Florida Street. The officers have organized a donation of 30 turkeys as well as many other canned and nonperishable goods for the church’s annual food drive, which has been held every year since 1994.
This year’s drive was started by Lieutenant Bryan Mayer, one of the officers on the afternoon shift. Usually, they have given the church gift certificates to go out and buy the food that they needed, but they changed that this year and got the food directly.
“This year, I figured I wanted to do something a little different and get everybody involved, so this is what we came up with,” Mayer said.
They did their first drop of food on Oct. 27, followed by another this past Wednesday. They are planning to do more donations as the holidays get closer.
Officer Harrison Chapman is one of the officers on the afternoon shift who has been helping out with donations as well. He actually lives near the church and helps out there even more frequently. He has grown up in the church, as both his father and uncle were pastors, so it was natural for him to get involved.
“At first it kind of happened by circumstance. I was going home and they asked me for help and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure,’ and then it turned into a pretty consistent thing,” Chapman said. “It’s always the same type of thing [in churches] where they’ll have a food pantry or something like that, so that was a no-brainer for me to help them.”
The food pantry has been running for a long time to help Buffalo families in need. They have upped their efforts since the pandemic started.
“We have many people that don’t have the means, so we try to do what we can to help, and particularly so since the pandemic. We have been a source for our individuals in need of help. We prided ourselves when the pandemic first began; we were afraid because we thought we were going to have to close up, and my fear was what we were going to do for those in need, so we never closed,” said First Lady Evangelist Cynthia Benning of the Upper Room Church. Her husband Daniel is the Pastor at Upper Room.
It is not just officers who are getting involved, either. Dispatcher Evangeline Powell was also part of the donations.
“It was just a pleasure in doing that. It’s always good to help out the community,” she said.
The church will continue to accept food donations through the week of Thanksgiving. After that, the Public Safety department is hoping to continue donations of toys for Christmas. They say they are proud to both help out the community as well as represent the college in these efforts.
“We work in this community. We see the kids playing in the streets in the summertime and in the snow in the wintertime,” Mayer said. “Being able to help and make sure these kids have something to eat other than breakfast and lunch at school; … to do this for the community that we work in and that we surround — it’s a big deal for us.”