Pantries Need Food to Feed Families

November 19, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 9:42 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

November 19, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 9:42 PM EDT

Cheektowaga, NY (WKBW) - It's a sad reality this holiday season -- thousands of Western New Yorkers are going hungry. Food pantries and the Food Bank of Western New York are trying to change that.

The small Evangelistic E's Food Pantry in Cheektowaga brings a lot of hope to Sharon Liberti.

She's one of hundreds getting their holiday meals from Evangelistic E's.

Sharon says "I know it's made such a difference for me. I know for sure I wouldn't have made it without the help."

Sharon started using the food pantry's services about three years ago.

After her husband died, Sharon had to live off of her home equity, eventually declaring bankruptcy. She adds that for nearly a decade, pride stood in the way of Sharon seeking help.

"You have to make a decision -- what do I want," Sharon explains. "Am I going to get my meds this month or am I going to buy food this month? And lots of times the food goes away."

Now, Sharon still uses the services. A senior citizen, Sharon struggles finding work that will pay the bills and make up for her husband's income.

Despite needing the pantry herself, a grateful Sharon volunteers at the pantry. She says it's very comforting to help others who have nothing at all.

Evangelistic E's Food Pantry is one of more than a hundred pantries in Erie County affiliated with the Food Bank of Western New York.

However, a struggling economy is tying the hands of many potential donors -- meaning less food is coming in.

Janet Ensmenger, of Evangelistic E's Food Pantry, says they understand the hardships. However, any small donation "goes to a family that really has nothing."

Ensmenger's pantry has just 14 turkeys -- and 225 families to feed this Thanksgiving.

Even without turkeys, she still plans to provide roasted chicken with all the fixings for families in need.

Sharon says every meal makes a difference, and that "It makes it a lot brighter -- the fact that I know I'm going to have a Thanksgiving that I can prepare for my family."

Turkeys and food collected at Operation Rock Out Hunger go to the Food Bank and food pantries to help those like Sharon.

The event is ongoing at a trailer outside the Quaker Steak and Lube Restaurant on Transit Road in Lancaster.

DJ Jickster from 97 Rock is camped there 24 hours a day through Wednesday. He's accepting turkey donations along with cash and non-perishable food.

As of Monday evening, more than 14-hundred turkeys have been collected.

Channel 7's a proud partner in this annual event.