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Catholic Charities

Kindergartener from Notre Dame Academy holds her own Catholic Charities Food Drive

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 Camryn Sireika and her mother, Becca, wish to thank all the generous donors who contributed to their food drive. At only 6 years old, Camryn organized a food drive to benefit Catholic Charities’ Russell J. Salvatore Food Pantry in Lackawanna. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi.

The book of Isaiah says a child shall lead them into a peaceful world. In Lackawanna, a child led her neighbors to a more generous and kinder world. Camryn Sireika is only 6 years old, but the compassionate child held a successful food drive for Catholic Charities.

Seeing a homeless woman during a trip to Niagara Falls had a profound effect on the kindergartner from Notre Dame Academy.

“I saw someone who had to live under a tree and I wanted her to have a nice home and a bunch of food,” she said.

Agreeing to help was a no-brainer for Camryn’s parents, both Lackawanna firefighters.

“She said it and I just said, ‘Let’s do it.’” explained Becca Sireika, Camryn’s mother. “What do you do when a 6-year-old comes up to you and says they want to do something kind? You do it.”

They originally planned something small in their front yard with a few friends and family, but once they started reaching out into the community, the response was overwhelming.

Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo, the fire department, police department and Department of Public Works were among the many who wrote checks. The Sireikas received $1,530 to spend at BJ’s. Camryn earned another $2,500 in a fundraiser for Catholic Charities. “And we have all this food that people keep showing up with today. Obviously, we have gotten a tremendous amount of support,” said Becca Sireika.

The drive, which took place at the Russell J. Salvatore Food Pantry on Caldwell Place in Lackawanna, saw piles of food donated on March 13.

“It has been so amazing,” said Clara Moran, chief development officer of Catholic Charities, who admits it’s unique to have someone so young organize an event such as this.

“It’s great though. I wasn’t surprised they wanted to do it, because they are such great people. It is also part of the curriculum at Notre Dame Academy to give back. So, they’re learning that at school,” she said.

Moran has seen an increase in the need for food pantries during this past year. She has also seen an increase in sympathy towards those in need.

“If anything has happened during this pandemic, I think that people have been able to understand the need maybe a little bit more,” she said. “People have found themselves in that situation that perhaps never would have are finding they are in need. So, we’ve had more people coming to our food pantries. They’re doing a great job at these pantries serving those people.”

The need exists year-round. Wanted items this Easter season include scallop potatoes, cakes mixes, condiments and salad dressings.

“A lot of times we have the staples, but we don’t have those oddball things that go the extra mile to give the dignity to the clients,” said Carolyn Stewart, coordinator of pantries and thrift store.

To hold you own food drive contact Carolyn Stewart, at 716-218-1400, ext. 2003 or 716-421-2326.

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