Local groups to offer support in Buffalo | News, Sports, Jobs

Pictured are BJ Buonaiuto, Jamie Probst and his service dog Siouxsie and Junie Eimiller. Photo submitted

Two local organizations will lend their support this weekend in Buffalo – the site of a mass shooting that left 10 dead and a grieving community.

With the help of Tops Markets District Manager Tim Tripi, Chautauqua County Hospice and Palliative Care and BE Strong 716 orchestrated a plan to help Sunday at a location to be determined. A team from Hospice plans to offer bereavement services while BE Strong 716 will provide free hot meals and non-perishable items to those in need.

Junie Eimiller said she was contacted on Tuesday by Jamie Probst, director of bereavement services at Hospice, who asked if she would be interested in “joining forces” to help the Buffalo community. Days earlier, 10 black people were killed in a Tops in Buffalo, prompting an outpouring of support, including from the city’s sports teams.

“The hospice is about taking care of other families as we would take care of our own,” said Probst. “I reached out to Junie from the BE Strong 716 organization because working through bereavement is about acknowledging a person’s continuing impact – even when they are no longer with us – and the BE Strong Foundation is about do good in honor of those we love.”

Probst’s food truck is capable of feeding a large number of people so he thought it would be a good idea to bring people from the Chautauqua County community to help support the Buffalo community.

“Jamie has a food truck and knows that I am a volunteer cook for our local UCANN mission and also prepared food for our BE Strong 716 Italian Dinner Fundraiser in November,” Emiller said. “Without hesitation, I agreed to help Jamie, as I knew it was something I could do.”

On Wednesday, BJ Buonaiuto, events manager at Chautauqua County Hospice, made a few phone calls and a tentative plan was quickly put together.

“No matter your address, we are all one community,” Buonaiuto said.

“With Tops Market still closed due to an ongoing investigation,” Emiller added, “The community not only needs fresh food and produce, but also basic necessities like shampoo, soap and toilet paper. That’s what BE Strong will help provide.

Organizations have been in contact with Buffalo officials to provide bereavement services, food and non-perishable items. As of Friday afternoon, the exact location where Hospice and BE Strong 716 will be installed had yet to be decided.

Chris Allenson, manager of a Tops in Jamestown, provided a $100 gift card to purchase supplies locally. Tripi will also supply items from other Tops stores in the Buffalo area.

However, donations are still needed.

Anyone interested in donating non-perishable items can drop them off at Chautauqua Suites today in Mayville and receive a discounted ticket to Hospice’s Gala fundraiser. Items can also be dropped off at Tops on Washington Street in Jamestown.

Monetary donations can be sent via Venmo to @BEStrong716.

“Every penny donated to this cause will be used to help Buffalo families affected by this tragedy,” Emiller said.

All donations made to BE Strong 716 are tax deductible. Anyone with questions can email Eimiller at [email protected]

Eimiller started the nonprofit BE Strong 716 after the tragic death of her son in 2021. She said her mission was twofold: to give back to the community in the 716 area code by donating to causes and to people who would have been important to her. son, Bannon, and to help others who are grieving.

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