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I accepted cans of food from an individual I have never been introduced to. I thanked her, logged the food into my donation book for her organization, and promptly forgot her because she never gave me her name! I like to learn the names of my donors. It is a connection that I try to adhere to when there is so much happening around me. Individual donors make such a difference in our pantry’s food supplies. I was sorry she became so faceless, since she handed me so much. But then I understood she might not have wanted any praise in giving the cans. Was she glad or was she hesitant coming into the pantry for the first time? I do not know, and it upsets me. Here in the pantry, we pride ourselves as a community of understanding and compassionate people whose goal is to embrace our 200-plus families with recognition of what it takes to feed 2,400 families a year. I am sad I never learned this lady's name, but she helped me understand that few people really know the pantry, unless they work here or are individuals working with this pantry's procedures. The Hero for Hunger this month is the anonymous face, often times featureless, who gives and gives more without any form of appreciation or gratitude. These heroes make this pantry unique.

I also assume everyone entering Calvary Food Pantry knows how the process of getting food works. Like the other day, every once in a while I come across an individual or a family applying for the first time. Glad to be there, or ashamed to be asking, these new participants' reactions are often the same: amazement at the amount of food available at their fingertips. Furthermore, I have been told, the hustle and bustle of volunteers (hiding the strict procedures necessary for getting food) is heartwarming. New applicants are often asked to view the film on YouTube that was produced by Terry Cuddy's media class at BOCES, outlining procedural where-with-alls for the pantry, and then come to me later if they have any misunderstandings and/or questions. We give three meals a day for five days, to anyone who asks, in our geographic area. They then have choices from a menu (another surprise). As I said, we feed many people each month. Newcomers seem to be satisfied what we do here for them. Additionally, I have large racks of food each day I am open. I give to anyone who lives in our geographic area, but I deny no one access and eventually send whoever to their own geographic area's food pantry. (These procedures were put in place several years ago by my partner, the Food Bank of Central New York, because we were running out of food needed by our 200-plus families and assorted individuals.)

The BOCES film was only one of a few steps I needed to bring the pantry into the 21st century. My goal, initially, was to have The Citizen's monthly column, our website (with Heroes for Hunger articles from the past listed), a computer program that links us to all our participants, a Food Bank of CNY partnership, and now a YouTube film of operations. I feel I have thoroughly succeeded at this objective. It has been a large undertaking, but a success. I don’t struggle to tell my story to the businesses, churches — including my landlord, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church — and interested people who want to help how my board and I run this operation. They now know what it takes. What this has done for me is freed up my fundraising responsibilities, which are essential to the survival of the pantry programs. Every penny counts here.

News from the pantry

• We made $1,200 dollars from our rummage sale! Thank you everyone!

• The Prison City Ramblers gave us $1,000 from its annual Father’s Day car show. Thank you.

• Antonia Frank and her family are again contributing her "Shoebox: Made with Love" project from the Lakes Church, with personal care and hygiene goods. We will keep you posted. Thank you, Antonia.

• The Thanksgiving Turkey Trot from First Presbyterian Church kicks off with the turkey truck from 9:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 19. Bring your donated turkeys there, 112 South St., Auburn, as you have done many times in the past. This kicks off our Thanksgiving donation period, where our baskets are filled for our 200 families. St. Luke's, Westminster and Auburn United Methodist churches and Community Computer all participate in our fundraising efforts to fill baskets.

• The Hunger Walk happened yesterday. We will keep you informed of the outcome.

Please volunteer, donate or reciprocate in kind.

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Nancy Sheffield is the executive director of the Calvary Food Pantry in Auburn.

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