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Son of Tops mass shooting victim serves up Thanksgiving meals for the needy, honors her memory

Mark Talley, who lost his mother Geraldine in the Tops mass shooting, helped as a volunteer. They expected to feed over 100 drop-in guests during a holiday meal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Friends of Night People charity served up a holiday dinner for those in need with an added purpose of paying tribute to the kind and caring spirit of a woman who was taken from her family and this community back in May at the Top's shooting.

2 On Your Side saw how her son's presence helped carry on her legacy of loving to cook and serve others.

They expected to feed over 100 drop-in guests during a holiday meal, just as they do every day at their Wadsworth and Hudson location in Allentown. 

Friends of Night People executive director Joseph Heary says they were able to do so, thanks to generosity of so many in the community.

"Different members of the community hosted food drives for us," Heary said. "We worked with the Rich Family Foundation from Rich Products that helped supply some turkeys for us this year. You know, all over Western New York, whether it's produce coming from farms or people doing drives at schools and community groups and businesses."

To serve those meals there is an army of volunteers with some familiar faces and hard working folks really hustling out in the kitchen. That includes kitchen staffer Dwight Robinson, who is extremely busy and giving of his time.

2 On Your Side found out he had worked an overnight shift elsewhere before coming to the food pantry to help prepare the meal. 

We asked, "Some people couldn't do that. Why do you do that?"

Robinson said "because I love to help people out, man. I love to see people eat and be happy, you know. Just the fellowship with people."

And that fellowship was mixed in with compassion and tribute this year like a delicious salad.

Mark Talley, who lost his beloved mother Geraldine in the Tops shooting, helped as a volunteer, as well to prove her enduring spirit as he recalled her presence in a kitchen.

"She definitely didn't mind cooking for anybody, whether it was a co-worker, family, or somebody she just met. She was an amazing cook," Mark Talley said. "Seeing a bunch of people come in here now on Thanksgiving who may be less fortunate, who may be having some type of situation like going through a mental illness or disability, or they just can't afford or have nothing right now for Thanksgiving.

"Having people being able to provide even just a little comfort, whether it's a nice hot meal, some clothing, some feminine supplies, anything of that nature, she would definitely be happy and proud of it."  

Of course, the Friends of Night People Organization is always looking for volunteers at any time of year. If you're interested in helping out you can go to their website.  

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