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Good Neighbors: 'Be a Blessing Buffalo' makes Christmas brighter for local families

A Clarence family started a charity in honor of a loved one. It has grown so much that they'll be wrapping and delivering 3,000 gifts to families in need this year.

CLARENCE, N.Y. — During this season of giving, Buffalo certainly lives up to it's reputation as the City of Good Neighbors.

A local charity called "Be a Blessing Buffalo" is busy making sure hundreds of children and families who are struggling, will have something special under the tree this year.

"We started Be a Blessing Buffalo, my sisters, mother and I in honor of my late father, who passed away in 2019 in his sleep of a heart attack," said Kate Tolley-Gerlach of Clarence.

Tolley-Gerlach says just before his sudden passing, her father, John, wanted to reject how commercialized Christmas had become, and honor the true spirit of the season by adopting families in need.

"What started as 3 families while he was alive is now looking at 500 plus this year," said Tolley-Gerlach.

Children, senior citizens, men, women and members of the homeless community are all being helped because of this one family's small idea. They're now officially a 501C-3 non-profit charity called "Be a Blessing Buffalo." Through generous donors, sponsors and 30 local businesses that serve as drop off sites, they plan to give out more than 3,000 gifts this year.

'We're the vessel. It's this community. It's the people that silently give. It's the CEO of a company who writes a check and doesn't want the publicity for it. That's what this is about," said Tolley-Gerlach.

The volunteers wrap secretly deliver the gifts to the parents by Christmas Eve, so children don't know how the gifts were acquired.

"And we have physical wish lists so these children are writing to Santa, and Santa brings them to us and we help fulfill his need."

Tolley-Gerlach believes her Christmas angel- her father- is watching with pride.

"He didn't have a lot but what he had he gave with a grateful heart," she said. "We're so faith based and so driven that through my father's legacy we're able to do we were put on earth to do and that's give and give our best with nothing in return."  

Be a Blessing Buffalo is accepting gift donations through the end of Wednesday, December 22 at Paddock Chevrolet.

To learn more, visit the Be A Blessing Buffalo Facebook page here.

To make monetary donations, visit the Go Fund Me page here

For more information, email BeABlessingBuffalo@gmail.com