Rescuing the Food Pantry: Matt's Memo

Assumption Food Pantry.

An e-mail from a friend. A story on the news. A well known business man seeing the story. A media company supporting the charitable effort. In 36 hours that series of events lead to the short term salvation of the Assumption Church Food Pantry which was on the verge of closing for good.

Mary Ellen Annesi reached out to me last Friday night. I've known her for years. Recently we had been in touch as she appreciated our news coverage of the Canonization of Mother Marianne Cope.

She had a sense of urgency in her e-mail describing the dire circumstances of the Assumption Food Pantry on Syracuse's North Side. The kitchen was preparing to announce to the public it would be shutting its doors for good. The demand for food had out stripped the funds to provide it to the hungry.

I had seen the need in that neighborhood first hand in recent months. Our Shamrock Animal Fund held the spring Healthy Pet Clinics on the Assumption campus. We selected the site because of the intense poverty nearby and the social support systems in place through the work of the Franciscans and the rest of the team at Assumption.

By Sunday Mary Ellen and I had assembled the details and contact information to our CNYCentral news team would be ready to put a story together on the struggling pantry on Monday.

The story aired Monday evening and Tuesday morning. That's when Billy Fuccillo Jr., the car dealer, saw the story on our news. He called his father Billy Sr. The two of them decided they had to help. They pledged $50,000 in matching funds for every dollar donated by others in the community. Billy Sr. Enlisted the help of CNYCentral President Chris Geiger to utilize the publicity power of our media group to encourage the public support.

By Tuesday afternoon small donations were coming in, but the big matching gift was generating a lot of attention. Brother Nick and the others at the Food Pantry were feeling relief that the short term outlook for feeding the hungry was much brighter.

By the way, it is worth noting the origin of our coverage and involvement with the food pantry came from contact I had with Mary Ellen about Saint Marianne. Remember, Assumption Church was the parish where Marianne Cope took her vows and became Mother Marianne. Maybe that helps explain the miraculous series of events that have rescued the food pantry just in time for Christmas.

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