CATTARAUGUS - Tom Patterson, a Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School senior and Student Council president, surprised Elizabeth O'Neill, Community Care Center outreach director, with a $500 check.
The gift resulted from a vote by the student council membership to help the outreach center fulfill its many community-based activities. Mrs. O'Neill accepted what she described as "a wonderful ... and very generous gift."
Accompanying Patterson was Sarah Zink, the Student Council's faculty adviser. She said Student Council members are encouraged to bring ideas for using the council's money to its scheduled meetings.
From left are Sarah Zink, Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School faculty adviser, and Tom Patterson, Student Council president, who recently visited the Trading Post South to present a $500 check Elizabeth O’Neill, the post’s outreach director. When Patterson apologized for not having time to construct “a big check,” for the occasion, O’Neill laughingly responded that this one was quite big enough.
Photo by Arvilla Pritchard
"They come in with their own proposals," she said, "and they get up in front of the others and try to convince them."
Patterson grinned as he told Mrs. O'Neill, "Nobody needed any convincing on this one."
He said that one council member's school bus just happened to drive by the Trading Post when a long line of people was waiting for the food pantry to open. He said she'd never even noticed it before and suddenly it hit her that there are hungry people in the town.
"When the other council members heard the story, they all voted to donate money to the "Post,'" he said.
Trading Post South is located on Washington Street, Cattaraugus, and is an outreach ministry of Fellowship Hill, Springville. One of its hard-working volunteers, Pat Gunsolus, said that there's no shortage of uses for the Student Council's donation.
"We're always buying food for the food pantry, " she said. "And sometimes we try to help people with gas or electrical bills or rent payments. And of course, we're still trying to finish the upstairs apartments."
The apartments are being prepared as temporary housing for people who need emergency shelter.
Currently, Trading Post locations are helping more than 1,200 families and individuals a month with food, clothing and household goods. In addition, hundreds of items are given free to referred families undergoing crisis situations. The agency helps with food, a clothing exchange, infant items, household needs, a free bread program, $5 haircuts, cooking and quilting classes, volunteer opportunities, a community kitchen and crisis referrals.
The Trading Post outreaches operate in a store atmosphere, where families are able to come in to access, trade or purchase gently used clothing, infant, food and household necessity items. The group operates a bi-monthly food pantry and monthly community kitchen meal nights.
To trade, customers can bring in clothing and necessity items that are clean, in current style or season, in excellent condition and working order and have no rips, stains or odors. In exchange, they will receive Trading Post Bucks that can be used at any of the agency's Trading Post locations.
For more information, call the Trading Post at 257-3077. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first and third Saturday of each month.