Felician Sisters to hold service day to support food pantry

Thu, Apr 10th 2014 03:00 pm

The Felician Sisters will sponsor a "Felician Service Day" on Saturday, April 12, to support the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry at Villa Maria College.

From 9 a.m. until noon, the Felician Sisters, who have taken an active role in supporting the good works of the pantry, along with the Felician Associates, will unpack, shelve and store donations in preparation for immediate distribution.

Children from schools staffed by Felician Sisters, parish teams, family members and friends are all invited to join the service day and lend a hand by bringing items to the pantry and helping with organizing the donations.

Items that are most needed include paper towels, bathroom tissue, birthday party bags, and personal care products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower gel, shampoo and deodorant. $10 gift cards for Wegmans, Tops and Aldi are also being collected.

Located on the ground floor of the music building, the pantry is directed by Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas, CSSF, since August 2013. Through the last seven months, Sister Michaelanne has continued to provide food to those in need, and has found continued support from the college and surrounding communities.

Kyle Tobin, an Eagle Scout from Troop 659 at Queen of Martyrs Parish in Cheektowaga, has taken on the food pantry as his special project. Working with his fellow scouts and their assistant scout leader, Marc Muroff who attends Villa Maria College, Tobin will paint the storage room and begin constructing wooden pallets for additional food and paper product storage.

Sister Michaelanne continues to marvel that the dream of one sister, along with the support of her religious, collegiate and non-profit communities, has blossomed into a culture of hope at a time when many are experiencing the pressures of economic distress.

Since their founding, the Felician Sisters have been dedicated to assisting the poor, neglected and abused. Living her values, and inspired by a 1986 newspaper article on college food pantries, Sister Mary Josette Smigielski, CSSF, member of the Justice and Peace Committee of her community, and campus minister at Villa Maria College established a food pantry on the campus.

"The Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry is a vital asset to our changing neighborhood," said Sister Mary Louis Rustowicz, mission leader at Villa Maria College.

The pantry began as a service for students and employees of the college and consisted of one table in the cafeteria, near an exit for easy access.

At first, the makeshift pantry served 115 to 120 individuals from 26 households. During the next 25-plus years, the pantry grew, touching the lives of many more families and individuals.

From July 2012 through June 2013, the pantry served more than 5,500 households including more than 13,800 individuals. The Felician Sisters, Felician Associates of New York and the Food Bank of Western New York all continue to support the efforts of the pantry.

The Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry at Villa Maria College is located at 240 Pine Ridge Road in Buffalo.

For more information about the event contact Sister Michaelanne at 716-961-2860.

Joseph DiDomizio is coordinator of Communications for Villa Maria College.  

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