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Pandemic can’t suppress generosity of St. Joe’s students as they make 39th Warming House delivery

Dec 18, 2020

Even in the face of extraordinary challenges, the young men at St. Joe’s always deliver.

students unload boxesFor the 39th year in a row, students from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo delivered a truckload full of non-perishable food items and paper products to the Warming House, St. Bonaventure University’s soup kitchen on North Union Street in Olean.

A global pandemic wasn’t going to stop the school from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the St. Joe’s Food Basket. The Warming House, which started receiving donations from St. Joe’s in 1982, is the primary beneficiary of the school’s annual food drive.

This annual Christmastime donation is the largest donation of non-perishables the Warming House receives each year.

“We simply couldn’t operate without their generosity,” said Alice Miller Nation, director of SBU’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern. “And this year, with the financial hardship caused by the pandemic driving even more people to the Warming House, their donation is more important than ever.”

More than two dozen young men from St. Joe’s took less than an hour Friday morning to unload boxes containing more than 11,000 items. 

plaque presentation

Afterward, they were treated to a socially distant lunch in the parking lot behind the Warming House.

University President Dr. Dennis DePerro presented St. Joe’s social studies teacher Michael Stewart, a co-moderator of the Food Basket, with a plaque commemorating the golden anniversary of the Food Basket. The plaque also thanked St. Joe’s for being the “lifeblood of the Warming House operation” for almost 40 years.

In 1970, St. Joe’s religion teacher Chuck Ende and a group of St. Joe’s students began collecting food donations for those in need. That first year, Ende said the collections fit in the trunk of his car. When Ende retired in 2007, students that year had “collected 60,000 food items, enough to fill three trucks.”

This year, given the challenge of collecting donations, St. Joe’s asked its alumni to assist in the collection by either dropping the items off at the school, or utilizing an Amazon Wish List to send boxes of non-perishables directly to the Warming House. Boxes have been arriving for the last two weeks at University Ministries to supplement what the students delivered Friday.

The Warming House is the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the nation.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.