Saratoga-Wilton, NY 161

Saratoga-Wilton, NY Lodge News

Elks Deliver Food to the Needy Seniors with Impact Grant

"I say thank you every time they come. I'm very thankful for the people that volunteer," said Ethier, who lost her husband in 2014 and hasn't driven since.

Earlier in the day, volunteers were packing up bags at the St. Clement's Church food pantry in Saratoga Springs, filling each with requests from the seniors they'd later deliver to.

It's a program started by Ben Buffa, the senior outreach chair of the Saratoga-Wilton Elks.

"The overwhelming majority of the seniors we service have health issues where they're paying hundreds of dollars a month in co-pays and they literally have to make a choice between their prescription medicine or buying food," said Buffa.

He's referring to people like 76-year-old Shirley Slater, an insulin dependent diabetic who takes 21 pills a day.

"It just seems like money doesn't stretch far enough between doctors and food," said Slater.

The effort started with delivering to eight people who couldn't get to food pantries.

Buffa and a team of 12 or so volunteers now deliver to 114 seniors in danger of falling through the cracks - and he says there are more out there.

They just need more dedicated volunteers, like 73-year-old Anne Taylor who can put herself in the place of those to whom she's delivering.

"At one point in time I was on food stamps, so I knew what it was like to not know where your next meal is coming from," said Taylor.

Buffa says they've got the packing and delivery operation clicking and he's eager to get other area Elks lodges to do the same.

"The next mission is to make sure we spread it throughout the county, the state, and the country."

Nancy Ethier says she couldn't live without the twice a month deliveries.

"The things that you need every day and it prevents you from running out of money at the end of the month."

To receive assistance with groceries or to volunteer, contact Ben Buffa.