Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CHOW gets donations, a visit from Santa

December 15, 2013

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) On Sunday, Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse held a day with Santa, asking for donations for those in need.

Children gave Santa a few items from their Christmas lists, and families dropped off donations for CHOW.

Organizers said they expected around 200 people to come out for the event. They asked community members to drop off non-perishable food items for others who need them.

CHOW organizers said it's especially heartwarming to see children donate to others.

"There's so many young people that are in need, so it's a really nice process," said CHOW Director Michael Leahey. "Young people come in and they have a great time."

Last year, CHOW received nearly 1,000 lbs. of food.

By Megan Carpenter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A big present for CHOW

Endicott, NY- Shoppers walking into the Weis in West Corners may have wondered about what appeared to be a giant present in the middle of the store.

With the help of its shoppers Weis made a large donation to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

That present was full of food donations that were loaded into the CHOW truck Friday morning.

Along with the food Weis also made a corporate donation of $15,000.

These donations are coming during an especially difficult year for CHOW.

"Seventy percent of the students that go to Binghamton High School are on free or reduced lunch programs when those students don't have the schools to depend on what ends up happening is they go to pantries," said Joe Sellepack of CHOW.

Sellepack went on to say that longer break is what puts the extra strain on CHOW to keep food pantries stocked and this donation from Weis will go a long way.

By Sam Gaddes

Matthews Subaru to host kid and pet photos with Santa to benefit CHOW

December 9, 2013
CHOW, the Community Hunger Outreach Program of the Broome County Council of Churches, is in desperate need of food donations this holiday season.

According to a news release:

The public is encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or a cash donation for CHOW to Matthews Subaru at 3013 Old Vestal Road in Vestal (Behind Lowe’s) through January 2nd.

As part of Subaru’s national “Share the Love” initiative, Subaru will donate $250 from the sale of any new Subaru  vehicle to CHOW or the buyer’s choice of 5 other national charities through January 2nd.

To enhance the food drive, Matthews will be hosting “Kid and Pet Photos with Santa” on Thursday December 12th from 6pm to 8pm with free human and dog cookies, candy, balloons and beverages. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras and nonperishable food items for CHOW.

“This is an especially demanding time for meeting the needs of hungry people in Broome County and this event is a wonderful opportunity for people to share their resources to make things a little easier for folks facing food insecurity,” noted Rev. Dr. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the Council.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Life Lived: Vestal resident was active in Council of Churches, local choirs

When somebody like Ray Hull leaves the earth, holes suddenly appear.

“Ray was a very important person around here,” said the Rev. Dr. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches. “He served on the budget and finance committee until he died.”

Ray had also served as treasurer of the board for years and, using his engineering background, as liaison between the building crew and the board of directors for the new Council building on the South Side of Binghamton.

“Whenever I had a building question, I called Ray,” Sellepack said.

Sellepack hadn’t been aware Ray had died on Oct. 15 at age 74 until he got what sounded like a routine phone call.

“We got a call from a lawyer who said we were named in the estate,” Sellepack said. “I asked if Ray was updating his will or something, and the lawyer said, ‘No, he died.’”

Those three words flabbergasted Sellepack, who’d often pick up the phone to find Ray on the other end, just calling to see how life was going.

Friends and family flocked to Ray’s memorial service on Nov. 30.

Man with the answers

Ray was the go-to guy at Longford Lake, too, while it was planning for its new sewer system, said Bob Alspaugh, who lived near Ray’s cottage there, in Brackney, Pa..

“If Ray wasn’t around for some reason, everybody got all excited because nobody else knew anything,” he said. At one early meeting, Ray hauled in three boxes of documents, containing blueprints for the lake’s dam, a map of the lake, and other papers that predated Ray’s time owning property there. “He became the informal historian.”

Hudda Aswad, of Binghamton, knew that Ray and his late and much-beloved wife Sharon, who died in 2009, had been particularly close.

They never had children but devoted time to various community causes, such as the Phelps Mansion Museum.

They enjoyed their home in Vestal and their place at the lake — and they loved cats.

“After Sharon died, the last cat died, and he never got another one,” Aswad said.

Ray was a sensitive man shaken to his roots when Sharon died unexpectedly during surgery, leaving him painfully alone. His three siblings live in Maryland, California and Tennessee.

Mr. Perfection

Indeed, Ray was no ordinary guy, said longtime friend Lou Perman, of Binghamton.

“He was a very intense person,” Perman said. “He would have everything all thought out before he started anything — a typical engineer. There’s always a better way of doing things. And I never knew him with his hair messed up, never saw him needing a haircut.”

Ray had retired after a long career with NYSEG. 

Perman worked side-by-side with Ray at Tuesday night work meetings at Tabernacle United Methodist Church, where administrative assistant Mal Cohen remembers him and his wife singing in the choir, then under the direction of locally renowned music man Alan Crabb.

He sang baritone to Sharon’s alto, and they reveled in the fellowship.

“He’d have choir parties in his house,” Cohen said.

Ray wasn’t only in the choir, but generally assisted with the hiring of the organist and choir director whenever an opening arose, explained longtime friend and fellow Tabernacle member David Gouldin.

“Ray was very bright, well-organized and a very solid financial thinker,” said attorney Gouldin, a partner with Levene Gouldin and Thompson LLP in Vestal. “He did a great deal to carry our church on his shoulders during his years of leadership here.”

The addition of contemporary songs at Tabernacle did not meet with Ray’s approval, and the Hulls began singing in the choir at United Presbyterian Church in Binghamton.

Music is the context in which Barbara Hickling, of Endwell, will best remember him.

“If there was a music event going on in this valley, he would be likely to turn up to sing,” she said.

When he made his annual pilgrimage to the Bach Festival in Bethlehem, Pa., he made his reservation for the next year.

That festival will now be missing one of its most enthusiastic supporters.

Written by
Valerie Zehl

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Choruses unite to help CHOW

The 10th Annual Choruses for CHOW Benefit Concert will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 380 Main St., Johnson City.

The concert, which raises money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) of the Broome County Council of Churches, will feature the Binghamton Downtown Singers, the Montrose Christmas Chorale, the Bronzissimo! Bell Choir, the Carousel Harmony Chorus, the Endwell Community Chorus and the Southerntiersmen Barbershop Chorus.

The individual groups will perform a range of musical styles and combine for a grand finale.

The timing of the event is especially important, as the need for food spikes at this time of year, because Broome County students who participate in food nutrition programs in their schools will be on extended breaks during December.

Tickets in advance are $8 and can be purchased by calling the Broome County Council of Churches at 724-9130.

Tickets also will be sold at the door for $10.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Competition of cans for CHOW

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It was the battle of the cans between Vestal and Binghamton High Schools.

Each school had two weeks to collect as many canned foods as possible. All of those items are now headed to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

"It really couldn't come at a better time," said Mike Leahey, director of CHOW. "We're coming up on the holidays and a very long school break where a lot of students who stuffer with food insecurity -- they'll be at home without the breakfast and lunch the schools provides so this is going to directly affect them."

Vestal won the competition by collecting more than 1,900 cans with around 3,500 food items collected between both schools.

"For me personally, what makes it all worth while is that it's staying in the community," said Nathan Grossman, a senior at Vestal High School. "I think it's great that we can know it in our hearts that it can stay in the area and it's going to improve the lives of the people in Binghamton."

All of the food was loaded up on a truck on Tuesday and delivered to CHOW.

It will then be distributed to the 60 CHOW programs in Broome County.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Food-A-Bago drive kicks off to end holiday hunger

Town of Chenango, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The 13th Annual Food-A-Bago kicked off Monday as a campaign to spread generosity and help to your neighbors.

Local radio stations are asking you to put a few extra items in your cart on your next trip to the grocery store. The non-perishables will be collected with the goal of filling an RV, which will then be picked up by the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), and then distributed to families in need.

99.1 The Whale, Wild 104, 98.1 The Hawk, and WNBF will be broadcasting live from the RV and encouraging the community to stop by and make donations.

"We've had years where we've collected ten tons of food. Whatever we can get to, even a little helps," said Don Morgan, brand manager for 99.1 The Whale and Wild 104.

Morgan said there is a greater need this year, as the economy teeters and children go on Christmas break.

"Kids are out for about two weeks, which means they don't get the lunch at school two times a day," Morgan added.

Food-A-Bago will continue through Monday, November 11. Non-perishable items can be dropped off from 6 AM to 6 PM on weekdays, and 8 AM to 8 PM this weekend.

Bins are located at MainSource in the Town of Chenango, and Warner's Gas Service in Conklin.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Restaurant Week scores another hit in Binghamton

Restaurant Week co-founder Piero Lisio of Little Venice Restaurant, right, presents an $8,534 check to Mike Leahey, director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. Restaurant Week organizers held a news conference Friday touting the event's success in boosting local business and helping a local charity. / ANTHONY BORRELLI / Staff Photo

Restaurant Week — a 10-day event to promote Binghamton’s dining diversity — wrapped up Sept. 26 with a record-breaking 21,822 meals served and $8,534 worth of proceeds donated to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), organizers announced Friday at a news conference in Remlik’s Grille & Oyster Bar.

Restaurant Week has two editions each year. Chefs at 24 participating restaurants develop their own three-course menus for the event, each tailored for new and returning diners as a guide for what the restaurant has to offer.

The first Restaurant Week four years ago featured seven restaurants that served 6,800 meals during the event.

“When it started, it was an idea we thought would spur people to eat downtown,” said Piero Lisio, a partner at Little Venice Restaurant and the event’s co-founder. “We thought it would not only boost business, but also help a local charity and it’s since expanded.”

Mike Leahey, director of CHOW, said the funds will be a critical help for those in the community who depend on food donations, especially as the holiday season approaches.

CHOW provided more than 700,000 free meals to the needy in 2012. An estimated 40 percent of those served were children, Leahey said.

“We’re very thankful we live in a community where people support our local businesses and our businesses support a charity,” he said.

The previous Restaurant Week in March raised $7,259 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton.

In addition to its charitable element, Restaurant Week serves as sales boost for local eateries.

Joshua B. Ludzki, a Restaurant Week co-organizer, said the dedication of servers, dishwashers and other restaurant staff play as key a role in the success as the teamwork of restaurant owners who employ them.

“It would be really easy for these restaurants to be competitors,” Ludzki said. “Instead, what we have in Binghamton is this incredible cooperation.”

Restaurant owners said the event plays a key role in encouraging customers to explore new places and fill up tables during weekdays that might otherwise be slow.

“It’s great to see all the new faces; this has been our busiest Restaurant Week ever,” said Ed Wesoloski, a partner at Remlik’s.

Coupled with the recent influx of students and young professionals, events like Restaurant Week have helped create “a vibrancy that hasn’t been downtown for many years,” said Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan.

Another factor in helping the event prosper has been its ability to draw more customers from local communities outside Binghamton, Lisio said.

“Our hope is that people keep coming here even when it’s not Restaurant Week,” Lisio said. “It’s impossible to eat at all the restaurants in 10 days, so support them year-round — that’s the big message.”

Written by
Anthony Borrelli

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ending hunger, step by step

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The 31st annual CHOW Hunger Walk drew hundreds to Binghamton University Sunday.

With every step, the people of Broome County were one step closer to ending hunger in their community.

"People don't realize that some people don't have any food," said Gavi Hecht, a Binghamton University sophomore.

The money raised will benefit the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, also known as CHOW.
CHOW gave out more than 700,000 free meals last year.

For every dollar donated, they are able to provide four more meals to those in need.

The director of CHOW, Mike Leahey, said the organization gives out more than 100,000 free meals each month to Broome County's homeless and hungry.

"Our goal is to provide 200,000 additional meals to the community," he said. "Over forty percent of the meals we provide every month go to our children in this community, so that's just heartbreaking."

Leahey said he expected up to 1,000 people to come out for the cause.

The crowd included numerous Binghamton University students, some working the event as volunteers.

"It's a good way to benefit the less fortunate," said Johnathan Mendez, a member of Sigma Beta Rho fraternity. "I'm just volunteering myself, a helping hand with all of my friends, so show everyone a good time while you're walking for a good cause."

Putting their feet to the pavement meant an opportunity to learn.

According to CHOW, more than 33,000 people in Broome County are living in poverty.

"If you think about the percentages of people that are starving, I mean just look at ten people I don't know, but maybe three or two of them are starving," Gavi Hecht said,"I think it's important that everybody not only comes out here to support, but finds out what else they can do to help."

CHOW has 30 food pantries and 30 soup kitchens across Broome County.

Over 700 volunteer at 31st annual CHOW walk

Binghamton University students and Broome County residents gathered at the East Gym on Sunday to satisfy their hunger for fundraising.
Volunteers from the student body and local community participate in the 31st annual Hunger Walk Sunday afternoon. Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held the walk, which circled campus around the Brain.
Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held its 31st annual Hunger Walk, with an estimated 700 to 1000 volunteers attending to help the cause, according to CHOW director Michael Leahey.

Since 1976, CHOW, along with the University’s Center for Civil Engagement (CCE), has been providing free food to those in need in Broome County.

“It’s our best opportunity to be able to highlight the issue of hunger in the community and to be able to educate people about the issue of hunger,” Leahey said. “For every dollar we raise it ends up providing four meals in the community.”

Since 1982, CHOW, which is managed by the Broome County Council of Churches, invited Broome County residents and BU students to walk to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate. CHOW donated over 700,000 free meals last year.

“We moved to campus a few years ago, and we have a lot of students’ support,” Leahey said. “With that move, Sodexo, they donated food. Everyone has really donated a lot of time, a lot of volunteers. We’re very lucky.”

Collaboration between CCE, community members and the University seems to be helping CHOW’s turnout. CHOW has 30 pantries and two farms. Broome Bounty, a division of CHOW, is the sole food recovery program in the county, collecting food from local suppliers.

Other fundraisers such as the Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament and the Great New York State Chili Championship also aim to raise funds and awareness about hunger in the community. In 2012, CHOW reportedly served about two million pounds of food to those in need in Broome County through its soup kitchens and community meal programs.

“We do little things, we do big things. It involves a huge community, and I think every year we have more people that have never walked before,” said Carol Herz, a local resident of Binghamton and a CHOW volunteer for the past three years.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Around the Tiers: CHOW Hunger Walk

 Broome County Council of Churches will host its 31st annual CHOW Hunger Walk.
The 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk will be held Sunday, October 20 on the campus at Binghamton University.

Walkers may obtain registration envelopes prior to the walk at the Broome County Council of Churches office at 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton or call 724-9130 for more information.

You may also register beginning at 1 p.m. the day of the walk, which begins at 2 p.m.

Each individual raising $50 or more will receive a free walk t-shirt. All participants receive buttons.

The walk will be on the campus of Binghamton University and the walk and activities will begin at the East Gym.

Immediately after the walk, there will be free food, live music by the Beatles Band, appearances by the B-Mets and Senators Mascots, the ZooMobile, the Magic Paintbrush Project, bagpipers and games for children.

The goal for the walk is raising funds to provide 250,000 meals for hungry people in Broome County. Individuals, families and groups are invited to participate.

By Chelsea Bishop

Monday, October 14, 2013

CHOW Hunger Walk

The holiday season means a lot of things to different people, but to those in poverty-especially children- it can mean struggling for food.

The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will have its 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk October 20th at the East Gym at Binghamton University.

This year their will be live music, the Broome County Zoomobile, and activities from the Magic Paintbrush Project.

Through CHOW's program,  every one dollar raised is leveraged into seven dollars in food, which provides four meals.

"The cold weather is settling in and the holidays are coming, and that always provides a spike for us with a need for emergency food assistance. I'd like to remind the community that we have approximately a two week school break this year and we have thousands of young people who live in poverty who won't have access to those meals," said Mike Leahey the Director of CHOW. 

CHOW has provided more than 700,000 free meals in 2012 40% of the recipients were children according to the Broome County Council of Churches.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Giving Back and Sticking Around?

Students looking to volunteer and community organizations gathered in the Mandela Room at BU Thursday in hopes of helping each other. Students are given the chance to possibly earn credit for internships, form long lasting partnerships or just help out where ever they're needed.

"This is a great opportunity. We've had hundreds of students come by already, we're very excited about talking to them about how they could be of help to us and how we might be able to help them," said Larry Denniston of the Broome County Council of Churches.

Larry Denniston from the Broome County Council of Churches has been working very closely with one student run volunteer group to prepare for a hunger walk.

"We help out the community by just putting on events for people. If an organization comes to us and they say they need this amount of volunteers to run a 5K we will provide those volunteers for them and help them out in any way we can," said Erin Small of the Student Volunteer Center.

And helping the community may help keep these students in the community after graduation.

"And often this turns into something more than just volunteering sometimes they'll do an internship for credit. Sometimes they graduate and they're even hired locally which is something we're always striving for," said Allison Alden the Director of the Center of Civic Engagement at BU.

"Going on out of college I know a lot of different people from the community that I never would have met if I had just sat in my dorm so it was really rewarding that way," said Erin Small.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vestal High School’s Soccer Teams Kick off CHOW Drive

From the Vestal Central School District:

This year, student athletes on the Vestal High School soccer varsity and junior varsity teams are teaming up with the Broome County Council of Churches to help “kick out” hunger in our area.

September is National Hunger Awareness Month, and our players have been collecting nonperishable food items this month and continuing throughout the soccer season. We’re asking for your help. On September 25, the players will wear “Got CHOW?” T-shirts to school as part of a push to collect more food donations at both home games against Maine-Endwell that evening.

Community members can drop off cans or boxes of non-perishable food items at any of the boys and girls junior varsity or varsity home soccer games at Dick Hoover Stadium. CHOW barrels will be set up next to the concession stand through the end of October.

Currently, the Golden Bears soccer teams’ home games schedule is:

September 25, 4:30 p.m. JV Boys & 7 p.m. Varsity Boys

September 26, 7 p.m. Varsity Girls

October 4, 4 p.m., Varsity Boys

October 8, 4:30 p.m., Varsity Girl

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5K Run/Walk and festival on Sunday in Vestal to aid CHOW

The event will include a 5K run/walk through the park and woods, a volleyball tournament, live music, chicken barbecue, games and activities for kids, raffle baskets, Irish dancers, magicians, and face painting.

The event is organized and managed by the high school Association of Students from the Vestal area. Their mission is to help the community through charitable works and services
CHOW program director, Michael Leahey, said: “It is amazing to see what these students are doing in support of their community through this initiative to help feed people dealing with food insecurity. We are very grateful for their work on behalf of CHOW and impressed by their creativity and dedication in caring for people in need.”

Registrations for the 5K run/walk can be emailed to or you may register the morning of the race from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the park.

Pre-registration qualifies participants for a free T-shirt. Pre-registration is required to participate in the volleyball tournament by emailing and providing the entrant’s first and last name.

Admission is a donation of canned goods for the CHOW collection barrels.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Help Trample Hunger at the 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk

Broome County Council of Churches has announced several new and exciting features for the 31st CHOW Hunger Walk, which will be held Sunday, October 20.

Live music by The Beatles Band, the Broome County ZooMobile, activities from The Magic Paintbrush Project, and visits by the team mascots from both the BMets and Senators are some of the newest attractions of the event. As always, free food and beverages will be provided all participants.

The CHOW Walk is an essential part of the support system for the Council’s emergency food program. Hundreds of walkers, including individuals and families, as well as teams from dozens of churches, youth groups and community organizations contribute to the success of this annual 2.5 mile event, which will be held on the Binghamton University campus starting at 2:00 p.m. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. in the East Gym parking lot.

CHOW program director, Michael Leahey, notes that CHOW is seeking both veteran and new walkers to help raise the money needed to assist Broome County residents struggling against hunger. “People are urged to find a sponsor, form a group, or walk individually. In addition to enjoying the entertainment and food, each walker raising at least $50 will receive a free event tee shirt. The Walk this year has a new and family-friendly focus. We invite everyone to enjoy the expanded live entertainment and take advantage of the opportunity to participate in fun activities,” Leahey stated.  

CHOW, the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, provided over 700,000 meals, free of charge, to people requesting assistance in 2012. Over 40% of those served were children. CHOW also operates the Broome Bounty food recovery program, which rescued and redeployed over one million pounds of food locally last year alone. The demand for its services has been growing constantly as local individuals and families try to deal with the difficult economic environment. Through CHOW’s program, every $1 raised is leveraged into $7 in food, which provides 4 meals.

Volunteers can call the Council of Churches at (607) 724-9130 for more information and can pick up pledge packets at the office at 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton, on the city’s south side. Walkers can bring their pledge envelopes and money they collected to the walk.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Binghamton Restaurant Week starts Sept. 17

BINGHAMTON — Twenty-four restaurants will participate in the fall edition of Binghamton Restaurant Week, which runs from Sept. 17 to 26.

Proceeds will benefit the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

The ten-day event is intended to lure diners to local eateries and bolster the city’s economy while raising money for a local charity.

Restaurants have special lunch and/or dinner deals during the course of the event. A three-course lunch costs $10 and a three-course dinner $25 or less.

Participating restaurants include Binghamton Hots, Burger Monday, Cafe West 46, Cortese Restaurant, Crepe Heaven, Cyber Cafe West, Czech Pleeze, Galaxy Brewing Company, Gallagher’s Irish Pub,House of Reardon, Little Venice Restaurant, Loft @ 99, Lost Dog Cafe, Number 5 Restaurant, Remlik’s Grille & Oyster Bar, River Bistro, Sake-Tumi, South Side Yanni’s, Taste of Europe, Thai Time, Tranquil Bar & Bistro, Water Street Brewing Company, Whole In The Wall Restaurant, and Zona & Co. Grille

For more information about Binghamton Restaurant Week, including menus, visit

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weis Markets Launches Month-Long Fight Hunger Program (100 percent of the proceeds to benefit area food banks)

SUNBURY, Pa., Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Weis Markets today announced that it will launch its sixth annual Fight Hunger Program to run throughout Hunger Action Month this September. The program works to provide food and monetary donations to local food banks and emergency food providers in Weis' 165-store service area.

"Each September, we ask our customers to consider donating to local food banks in all of the markets we serve," said Kurt Schertle, executive vice president, sales and merchandising for Weis Markets. "Food insecurity is a growing challenge in our country and we are committed to helping our food bank partners meet this rising demand. We are grateful to our customers for their continued support."

Customers are able to donate shelf-stable items, as well as purchase $3, $5 and $10 vouchers during the checkout process. 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to area food banks in the form of gift card donations to help fill gaps in food supplies. Weis also offers convenient, pre-filled Fight Hunger donation boxes containing pasta, sauce, fruit, vegetables, tuna, cereal and soup — all for less than ten dollars.

The Fight Hunger Food Drive will benefit local food banks and pantries throughout Weis Markets five state market area. Regional food banks will also participate in the program including: The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast, PA; The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (Harrisburg); The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (Williamsport); The Maryland Food Bank; The Commission on Economic Opportunity/The Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton); Greater Berks Food Bank (Reading); Philabundance (Montgomery County, PA); Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW)/Broome County Council of Churches; Food Bank of the Southern Tier (Elmira);  Philabundance; Northwest Community Action Program NORWESCAP Food Bank (Phillipsburg, NJ); and Mountaineer Food Bank (West Virginia).

For more information about Weis' Fight Hunger program and its partner food banks, visit

About Weis MarketsFounded in 1912, Weis Markets is a Mid Atlantic food retailer operating 165 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia. For more information, please visit: or

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Youths help build ramp for Johnson City family

JOHNSON CITY — The process was painstaking. First, Bob Gould would pull himself out of his wheelchair by the back door. He’d move himself over to the first step and pull himself up — one, two, three times — to get to the door.

His mother, Mary Grogan, would grab the wheelchair, help him up into it, and they’d be able to go into the house.

On Tuesday, as he rolled down the newly-constructed ramp for the first time at his Virginia Avenue residence, he smiled and said, “perfect.”

The added mobility will change the pair’s lives, they said Tuesday, when the ramp was unveiled. Gould and Grogan received it for free through the Faith in Action Volunteers Ramp It Up program, run by the Broome County Council of Churches, after two years on the waiting list.

Gould can now travel in and out of the house on his own. He has been living with cerebral palsy since birth and has been in a wheelchair since he was 7 years old. He’s now 38 and works with computers for the Broome County Department of Social Services.

“I can start riding the bus again and just get out of the house by myself,” he said. “I can get to work by myself now.”

Grogan and Gould would have preferred a ramp out their front door, but a steep hill put an end to that plan. The ramp was installed in the back, limiting car access to the garage and encroaching on the backyard. But it was a small price to pay.

“We got our phone call about two weeks ago. We’re so thankful,” Grogan said. “The two of us aren’t getting any younger so this is a gift.”

A team of four youths and three adults built the ramp in less than two days. They’ll build three ramps in six days in the area, an ambitious goal, officials said Tuesday. Since the program’s inception in 2009, it has built 54 ramps. Ramps are built to Americans with Disabilities Act specifications and are funded through donations.

Kiki Banks, a 15-year-old from Johnson City, helped build the ramp. She became involved with the program through a youth group at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church. To watch Gould roll down the ramp for the first time made her choke up with emotion, she said.

“It just felt good to help somebody who needed it,” she said.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cruisin’ Pallooza raises money for Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse

Whitney Point was the place to be this weekend if you like choppers, American Cruisers or sport bikes. As  Elyse Mickalonis explains, although the 13th annual Cruisin’ Pallooza was all about motorcycles on Sunday, riders have a serious message they want the public to hear. Gear heads and motorcycle enthusiasts got the chance to check out some pretty cool rides this weekend at the Cruisin’ Pallooza.

 WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. -- It’s a lot different that driving a car. "It’s the wind in the hair, the cool breeze and just the freedom of it,” said Steve Ellsworth, Town of Binghamton Resident.

 Tim Columbia, Southern Tier ABATE Member, added, "Enjoyment out of a country road, riding through the curves with a rhythm, it’s almost like music."

 This weekend’s 13th annual Cruisin’ Pallooza event drew a lot of gear heads and motorcycle enthusiasts, as Sunday marked third annual “Bike Night During the Day.”

 Visitors enjoyed food, vendors, and bike games, while riders competed in seven classes, from sports bikes to American Cruisers. "Most people don’t need a trophy to appreciate their bike more.

But to be honest, bragging rights are priceless,” said Ralph Thorn, Johnson City Resident. Riders said they’re also urging the public to pay extra attention while they’re on the road during the summer, as more bikes will be out.

 "You've got to be a defensive driver. It's like football, you've got to be defensive all the time and be on the lookout,” said Ellsworth. Columbia added, "You look and you look twice. Don’t roll through stop signs. Don’t roll through right on reds. Stop, because a motorcycle might be coming." Thorn said, "Keep your eye out for us.

But if I’ve got mine running you’ll see me, because you’ll hear it, before you see it." There was also a bike show hosted by the Triple Cities Chopper Club and a ride to the event by Southern Tier Harley Davidson. Proceeds from the event will go towards Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Broome County Agencies Team Up To Combat Childhood Hunger

From the County Executive's Office:

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston will address the issue of childhood hunger in Broome County at a News Conference at 1:30 pm on Monday, June 10th, 2013, in the Cafeteria at Ben Franklin Elementary School, 262 Conklin Ave., Binghamton.

She will be joined by Food Bank of the Southern Tier President & CEO Natasha Thompson, Binghamton City School District Superintendent Dr. Marion H. Martinez, Broome County Health Department Director Claudia A. Edwards, and Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Lou Santoni.

Representatives from Broome-Tioga BOCES, Catholic Charities of Broome County, CHOW – Broome County Council of Churches, and UHS will be on hand for questions.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

EPAC hosts CHOW benefit Saturday

The Endicott Performing Arts Center will host the Community Dance Showcase Benefit for Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The showcase will feature many local artists, including Bruce’s Kountry Kickers, EPAC’s Dance Stories, EPAC’s adult jazz and tap, Southern Tier Dance Society, USA Dance and more. A variety of dance styles will be represented, including country, jazz, tap, swing, ballroom, lyrical and modern.

The director of CHOW, Mike Leahey, says he is thankful for the community’s support of CHOW. This time of year, when children are home from school, the need for non-perishable food items increases substantially. He noted that the following items are in high demand: non-perishable fruits and vegetables, tuna, peanut butter, cereal, and macaroni and cheese.

The event is free, but each audience member should bring two items for CHOW. Bins will be placed at the entrance to the theater. Seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis.

EPAC is located at 102 Washington Ave. in Endicott. For more information, call 785-8903 or go online to

Monday, May 20, 2013

Senior Connection: Older Americans Month recognizes, celebrates contributions

Since 1963, the month of May has been designated Older Americans Month, a time set aside to recognize and appreciate the value of older people in our communities. This year’s theme, Unleash the Power of Age, is an appropriate way to characterize the contributions that many older people make as they teach others the skills they’ve refined over the years, support those in need or engage in civic matters.

There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history, and most of the contributions they make are voluntary. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 volunteer rate for older adults was 26.5 percent, which represents a massive contribution to our social well-being.

The Broome County Office for Aging provides support, opportunities and recognition for older people in order to maximize their ability to make these valuable contributions. In an effort to help elders remain independent in their homes as long as possible, they provide educational services and programs that enhance the quality of life for many of Broome County’s elders.

The gifts that older people make to their families and communities are priceless, but all too often they are overlooked. The Broome County Office for Aging has recognized Barbara Bagan and Marta Alomar as volunteers who are Unleashing the Power of Age in their communities.

After completing a 42-year career, Barbara began looking for volunteer opportunities. She volunteered as a driver for Meals on Wheels in the Conklin area for 12 years and has also volunteered with the Office for Aging HEAP office for more than 10 years. Literacy Volunteers and Broome County Council of Churches have also benefited from her talents as a volunteer. Barbara says volunteering gives her an awareness of what is going on in the community and she appreciates that connection. “Doing something for others is the greatest reward,” she says.

Marta is a foster grandparent who has fun at the Broome County YMCA Y’s Kids Child Care Center where she has volunteered for 5 years. She says, “I love playing with the kids and reading books to them.” Her volunteer work there is greatly appreciated. Tammy Donnelly, assistant director of Child Care at the Y, says, “I don’t know what we would do without her. She is patient, helpful and good with any age.”

As you look ahead to the coming year, think about ways you can recognize elders like these and make additional efforts to Unleash the Power of Age in your community. It’s a “win-win” proposition because when we create opportunities for elders to share their many talents and engage in service to others we also help them stay positive, active, and vibrant.
Written by
Rhoda Meador

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) As postal carriers collected mail Saturday, they also collected food donations left out near mailboxes.

Thousands of pounds of non-perishable foods were collected in the Greater Binghamton area for the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

The food will go to the Broome County Council of Churches, or CHOW.

The drive was a team effort. Binghamton University's Alpha Kappa Alpha helped organize the donations as they flowed in.

"It's crazy," Naisha Blijd said. "Two, three trucks coming in at a time and they're full, very full. There's definitely a lot of donations out here. A lot of people in the community are giving back. It's awesome to see."

This food drive is the nation's largest one-day food drive.

A CHOW representative said collecting food this time of year is especially important for children who are now out of school, and need help getting a lunch.

By Erika Mahoney

Friday, March 8, 2013

Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition Sponsors Fast for Living Wage

From Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition:

On Monday, March 11, 2013, the Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition will hold a 3:00 P.M. Press Conference at the Broome County Council of Churches office at 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton to announce its Annual 40-Hour FAST.

The theme of this year’s FAST is Worker Justice. The fast will begin at 8:00 P.M. on Wednesday, March 13th, and conclude at 12:00 Noon on Friday, March 15th.

The Press Conference will provide information about the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State and the Annual 40-Hour FAST, its purpose and history. Speakers will remind the community of the importance of laborers and of justice in the work place. The event will serve as an invitation to all in the wider community to participate in a forty-hour period when the needs of workers are highlighted and new commitments can be made to work for justice.

The Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition is one of several chapters associated with the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, a network of people of faith and labor which calls upon our values and morality to give a voice to workers. The annual FAST provides a time to alter our daily habits and to focus upon the personal needs of self and those around us. Fasting is a process which can bring a closer awareness of abundance and want, excess and scarcity, justice and injustice.

In addition to the invitation to fast, the Labor-Religion Coalition invites all citizens to help implement a just system in the work place. During this special period and in the coming weeks across New York State, individuals, religious congregations, and labor communities will be calling upon our elected leaders and enlightened employers to increase the minimum wage and to work toward implementing a living wage for all workers.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Broome leaders weigh in on sequester impact

BINGHAMTON — Local leaders of human services agencies came together Monday to discuss effects the community will see as a result of the sequester.

The sequester kicked in Friday night and requires federal agencies to make $85 billion in spending cuts through the Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal fiscal year.

“They’re trying to balance this budget on the poor and the vulnerable,” said Sister Marilyn Perkins, vice president of Mission Integration at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton.

On Monday afternoon, in the Broome County Council of Churches, members from agencies including Head Start, Catholic Charities, Southern Tier AIDS Program and Opportunities for Broome, echoed Perkins’ sentiments and called on local residents to appeal the cuts to elected officials in Washington.

The groups were brought together by Citizen Action of New York.

“The money is there,” said Amy Fleming, a volunteer with Citizen Action, speaking about how Congress and the president need to work harder. “They just need the will and the heart and the integrity to move it.”

While most representatives were unsure of the immediate effects the sequester will have on their agencies, they all agreed the cuts will get worse over the course of the month and will be devastating to the local community if no action is taken.

“This will be compounded,” said Kathy Pfaffenbach, who works in the food pantry for Catholic Charities of Broome County.

Programs like Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to the elderly and WIC, which provides nutritious food for woman, infants and children, will be greatly affected through cuts in funding, she said.

This could lead to a greater dependence on the community to help fill the shelves and may mean less nutritious food for recipients.

Kate Grippen, the Head Start director of the Family Enrichment Network, said the program already has a waiting list of 102 and 106, respectively, for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

She said the list will continue to grow and there may be staff cuts for employees in the future.
“Simply put, the sequester is extremely painful,” she said.

Written by
Meghin Delaney

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