BUFFALO, NY- It was a true Christmas celebration at the Response to Love Center Tuesday. Just weeks ago when the community center's boiler broke, they feared they wouldn't be able to serve those in need this holiday season. But thanks to the generosity of Western New Yorkers, the center is filled with warmth, and so are the hearts of those who gathered there today.
"It's a time of coming together as a family, as a community, as a neighborhood, and it's really joyful," said the Center's director, Sister Mary Johnice.
Hundreds of Buffalo's less fortunate filled the Response to Love Center Christmas day. Their Christmas meals with turkey, stuffing and all the fixings didn't just fill their bellies, they filled their hearts as well.
"There's really a sense and a spirit here that these are our people and we're able to provide now for them with the warmth in the building, and just the warmth of the volunteers here who come from all over WNY," said the Center's maintenance supervisor, Michael Gilhooly.
Volunteers were glad to share their Christmas Day with strangers who could use a smile.
"We can be kind of stressed with all the work that has to go on. But when you see who it's going to and what it's worth, your time, your talent, everything that you do is meaningful," Sr. Johnice said.
This holiday season the community recognized the invaluable work the center does each and every day, and donors from across the country gave more than $100,000 to replace the broken boiler. They've since given the new boiler a very fitting name.
"The plaque on the boiler says 'Emmanuel- God With Us.' Not only for the boiler but that He will be with us continuously," said Sr. Johnice.
By receiving this very special gift, it means the Response to Love Center can go on and keep giving.
"It's the year of giving. It's the year of faith, and the whole community came together, and it really showed that we're not alone," she said.
The center plans on using the leftover donations to add an elevator to the front of the building, so it can be accessible to even more people in need.