The community honored Mother Teresa near her 105th birthday with its annual food drive to benefit the pantry at the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway.
Councilman James Vacca, who orchestrated the collection along with Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, gathered with local community leaders to mark the culmination of the drive on Tuesday, August 25, the day before the revered mother’s birthday.
Members of the Albanian American Society Foundation and the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association joined Vacca on Lydig Avenue at Holland Avenue, which was dedicated as ‘Mother Teresa Way’ several years ago, before bringing the food to the pantry of the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway.
The annual food drive was started five years ago to honor Mother Teresa on her 100th birthday and imitate the good works she did in her lifetime, said Vacca.
Although the drive takes place each August, Vacca hopes it reminds people that they can help their neighbors all year long by bringing non-perishable food to the pantry at 2157 Holland Avenue.
“There’s always an opportunity for people to donate to a local food bank,” said Vacca.
Since the food pantry at the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway was established in 1982, the food pantry has served more and more people as other local food banks have closed their doors over the years, said executive director David Edelstein.
“The number of people who have come to depend on us has grown,” he said.
The food bank is now the third largest in the Bronx.
Although the council receives the bulk of the food they distribute from the Food Bank for New York City, which is funded by the city and state, they are always looking to supplement that with donations from individuals or community groups.
“The food we get from the Food Bank typically disappears the day it arrives,” said Edelstein. “Any amount of food that comes in gets used.”
The council also receives funding from Vacca for the food bank each year, starting with $10,000 in 2006 and reaching about $19,000 this year.
The organization is important to Vacca because its the only food bank in the neighborhood open Monday through Friday.
His office regularly refers people who are applying for food stamps, but are hungry in the interim, he said.
“It’s always here for people in need,” said Vacca.
Edelstein said this year’s drive collected a few hundred pounds of food, including 48 boxes of macaroni.