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Volunteers collect food for Rural Ministry

George Westbrook, left, and Brett Kuhlman stand next to their truck containing several non-perishable food items, all of which will be donated to the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry. Submitted Photo.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, places everywhere have been running low on necessary supplies, both medical and not. One of those places is the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, who distributes prepared meals to those in need around Dunkirk. Now, more people are in need than ever before.

The Rural Ministry is running low on supplies to provide to people, causing some members of the community to help out as best they can. Two of those community members are Brett Kuhlman and George Westbrook. Kuhlman and Westbrook, both of whom work at Basil Chevrolet in Fredonia, sprung into action when they saw the state of the shelves at the grocery stores around town.

“Last week, I noticed that the shelves were barren and that our local grocery stores were being cleaned out due to everyone’s concern with the ongoing pandemic,” Kuhlman said.

Kuhlman, who used to serve on the board for the Rural Ministry, and Westbrook got the idea to hold a food drive at Wal-Mart in Fredonia, with all of the collections being donated to Rural Ministry. Kuhlman used his contacts within the Ministry, while Westbrook got the event cleared at Wal-Mart, and with some assistance from Basil, the idea was brought to action.

“I called Kathy (Peterson) and Steve (Keefe) and asked what they needed the most at the Ministry,” Kuhlman said. “George (Westbrook) used his contacts with Walmart to set it up there, I used my contacts at Rural Ministry to coordinate with them, and our employer Basil was kind enough to donate the truck to collect it all, and food supplies as well.”

Kuhlman and Westbrook stayed at Wal-Mart for around three hours, and wound up recieving a good amount of donations from the 40 or more people Kuhlman estimates stopped by. Kuhlman noticed the people who were there were happy to be of assistance.

“People seemed really eager to help,” Kuhlman said. “I think it really showcased the spirit of the community. Most of us that live in this community and want to make sure we are doing what we can to help those in the most need.”

At the end of the day, Kuhlman and Westbrook, and more importantly Rural Ministry, walked away with “hundreds of canned goods, and many boxes of macaroni product and other dry goods,” according to Kuhlman, though the Rural Ministry’s need for other supplies can’t quite be met due to the grocery store cleanout.

Despite the donations, the Rural Ministry is still in need of cleaning products, to-go containers, non-perishable food, and personal care items. Anyone looking to donate can drop off donations directly at Chautauqua County Rural Ministry. Kuhlman and Westbrook would also like to thank Basil Chevrolet for their donations, Walmart manager Brad Balentine for “giving us the time of day during this crazy time at his store,” and the community for their generous donations.

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