November 26, 2019

Local unions are shining examples of giving this holiday season

Author: Liza Frenette
Source:  NYSUT Communications
holiday giving buffalo
Caption: Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore (center) with teachers Lisa Aungst and Tim Aguglia of Buffalo's Lorraine Academy School #72. Photo provided.

There are many ways to celebrate giving thanks, as friends, families or people living alone discover when they pull up to a table. On this Thanksgiving, as on so many others, some of them will be nourished by food that was bought, collected and distributed by union members around the state.

On Monday, members of the Buffalo Teachers Federation muscled their way through a day of packing food for more than 200 families in need. Students and other volunteers joined them, loading sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, stuffing mix and more into bags and boxes that will be distributed today.

“It gets everybody working together to help people,” said Phil Rumore, BTF president. This year – the 23rd year of this sizeable community outreach — the local union for the first time was able to purchase reusable grocery bags to load the food into, so the bags themselves become purposeful.

The 3,900-member local union purchased food from Tops Market, which worked with the BTF, and also bought $10 gift cards from the chain so families receiving the food can purchase a turkey.

Many additional supplies were provided by teachers and School-Related Professionals who held food drives in their school, collecting canned and packaged goods and money.

All the food was brought to the BTF headquarters in Buffalo.

holiday giving buffalo
Students Autumn Jones and Dayveon Porter. Photo provided.

“We just had two teachers bring in a truckload of stuff that was collected at Lorraine Academy, School #72,” Rumore said last week.

Today, all the food will be picked up and distributed through The City Mission, The Community Action Organization, the Gloria Parks Community Center, Native American Community Service, Women for Human Rights and Dignity, and Fulgham Family Foundation. Students help cart the food out to waiting cars and trucks.

More than 200 families will be fed on Thanksgiving with the bounty.

In every part of the state, there are people living in poverty. Some families have fallen on hard times with a health issue or job loss. In other families, parents can only find seasonal work — such as construction, landscaping or farming — which falls off as cold weather settles itself in the northeast. Those who helped grow the food may now need it themselves.

The union commitment to helping those in need is long and strong.

The Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College has been providing food and hope to families in need on Thanksgiving for more than 20 years. There are three food pantries — one on each of the three college campuses — and the FA provides $400 for each one to be stocked with chickens, hams, canned goods and stuffing. It is faculty and staff who do the shopping

In New York City, members of the United College Employees of Fashion Institute of Technology are again bringing in edible goods to the union office for the fall food drive, which runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 23. The non-perishable foods will be provided to City Harvest, a food rescue organization that collects food and brings it to pantries and soup kitchens in all five boroughs.

Roberta Elins, president of UCE at FIT, said the union food drive has been happening for more than 20 years, in keeping with the higher education local’s mission of community engagement.