Luckily for all of us, this hasn’t been the most severe fall weather we’ve ever experienced. But rest assured, winter is coming, and when it does, the Buffalo City Mission wants to make sure that our city’s homeless population is prepared. When the temperatures start to hit 15 degrees or under the city of Buffalo declares a “code blue,” which means that the Mission must be prepared to accommodate up to 65 more people, mostly men. This requires  that they have on hand plenty of warm clothes and canned goods—12,000 cans per month—but also a few items that might not be so obvious.

To help prepare for these impending code blues, we talked to Sue Cervi, volunteer manager at the Buffalo City Mission, about what items they need most right now. For any questions regarding donations, please call the Mission at 854-8181 ext. 438

L, XL, XXL, and XXXL Sweat Suits 
“In the winter time, when folks come in off the street initially, it is very important we get them a shower and into some clean clothes. To be able to give them a sweat suit that is warm, clean, and brand new does a couple of things: For one, it’s a beautiful gift because it gives them a sense of comfort and care; But we’re also providing a basic need. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a pull over and a pair of pants.”

Hand Warmers 
“Say [the Mission] van goes out and they’re offering a ride; some folks say no for a number of different reasons. If that happens, at least they can share a handwarmer or two with them and help them to stay warm through the night if they choose not to come in.”

Socks, Gloves, Hats, Coats, Boots, Sweaters, and Pants. 
“We are always in need of clothing for men, women, and children. That’s a given. Especially socks. When your feet get wet, your whole body gets cold. That’s something we always have a need for.”

Canned Goods 
“I have a list of the specific kinds of canned goods we’re looking for. Some of these are more expensive, but they’re also the ones that are more sustaining, more filling for any individuals we can share these with. These include canned tuna and chicken, mac and cheese, small canned hams, stews and hardy soups, Manwich, baked beans, and ramen noodles. You’ll notice that they’re mostly proteins, which help to be filling and more nutritional. Starting in January we want to do 20 drives per month to meet the city’s food needs. We have a program where people can come to us to receive canned goods because we encourage folks to stay in their place of residence so that they don’t become homeless. If their money stretches far enough to pay their bills and whatever else, but not food, at least we can support in that way and help when they’re having a hard time making ends meet.”

Emergency Kits 
“This isn’t specifically winter-based, but we also have a need for what we call ‘emergency kits.’ We take a large ziplock bag and put in travel sized soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a washcloth. It helps to meet the immediate need when someone comes in for an intake. The community has been really responsive in putting together these kits for men and women. This is a big help as folks are coming in and needing to take showers.”

Monetary Donations 
“The best way to donate is online, or they can just send a check made out to the Buffalo City Mission, 100 East Tupper. The monetary donations go toward the whole programming and all the functioning of the Mission so that we’re here and able to have our doors open to serve the homeless population. It really goes for everything from the light bill to the staff. The goal of the Buffalo City Mission is to eliminate homelessness, to care for all of our folks that are out on the street for whatever reason that may be.”

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