WNY company comes to the rescue after mobile pantry breaks down

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – The Hearts for the Homeless mobile soup kitchen has become a staple for Buffalo neighbors in need of a meal. Five nights a week, the truck sits outside the library in downtown Buffalo, delivering food and clothing to anyone who shows up.

“Everyone always enjoys what they get,” said Stacey Menard, who cooks most of the meals. “Whether it’s a hot meal, a cold meal, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“It’s essential,” said Nicholas Calandra, CEO of Hearts for the Homeless. “It’s really about meeting this basic human need with food and clothing.”

But a few weeks ago, the program itself was in need. Calandra received a call from a volunteer who was on her way to deliver meals.

“She’s driving, she’s lost the full power of our volunteer, and by the grace of God she’s navigating a ramp, and is able to use the ramp hill to the coast and down the 190”, did he declare.

Nick Calandra, CEO of Hearts for the Homeless, rescued the stranded volunteers. They loaded up the food and arrived at the library late – but not too late.

“Over 50 people were waiting for us that night,” Calandra said. “To see the people waiting – they were cheering. We were honking our horns as we stopped so they knew it was us.”

The day was saved. The truck – not so much.

“Total engine failure,” Calandra explained.

The truck went to the mechanic and got a replacement engine, but the cost was $10,000.

“You can’t plan something like that,” Calandra said.

Hearts for the Homeless has launched a fundraising campaign. They raised about $4,000 – then Nick got a call.

“Frank’s Basement System and Plumbing called and covers the $6,000 difference to get us closer to the $10,000 difference.”

The owner of Frank’s tells me that helping is only part of the company’s mission.

“We feel humbled and blessed to be a part of these projects,” Frank DiMaria explained.

He hopes there is always more to do and that we can all lend a hand.

“Look for people who do good,” he said. “And try to support in any way possible.”

If you would like to learn more about Hearts for the Homeless and the work they do in the community, or to donate to their cause, check out their website.