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7 of the best Buffalo Strong stories of 2020 to inspire and encourage

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Posted at 5:18 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 17:33:50-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Many Western New York families faced challenges in 2020 as our community perseveres through the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the year, 7 Eyewitness News has been proud to shine a light on people, businesses and organizations offering moments of hope and inspiration. These good neighbors proved we are Buffalo Strong.

Viewers help a Cheektowaga woman with a rare disorder find Lysol
The pandemic left stores across the country with shortages of items like toilet paper and disinfectants. Western New York was no exception. But when one Cheektowaga woman had a unique need for Lysol, the community stepped in to help. Sarah D'Agostino has a rare disorder called Dercum's Disease. Her symptoms get worse when she's sick, so she relies heavily on Lysol. After sharing her story with us in June, several viewers came forward to share their Lysol supply.

"It kind of restores my faith in humanity with all the things that are happening in this world. This is just a wonderful turn," D'Agostino told reporter Ed Reilly.

Hillside Dairy of Akron relaunches home delivery
While many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, Hillside Dairy of Akron actually relaunched its business. Its owner decided to come out of retirement to start making home deliveries again, helping neighbors avoid going out to stores. The business delivers more than just dairy. Owner Bradley Hellert partnered with other local business to deliver fresh produce, too.

Teen helps clean up Bailey Avenue
At the end of May and beginning of June, protesters in Buffalo joined national demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Following one of those protests, on Bailey Avenue, 18-year-old Antonio Gwynn decided to start cleaning up on his own.

“I went bought some trash bags grabbed my broom and my dustpan and I just started here,” said Gwynn, “It was just me by myself. I just started riding up and down Bailey to see where stuff was destroyed so I can clean it up.”

Soon, others joined in to help Gwynn. The then-senior at Hutch Tech inspired a response from 7 Eyewitness News viewers. They contributed to get Gwynn a car, car insurance and a college scholarship.

Hamburg business adopts a family for the holidays
Sisters Molly Sowinski and Kate Violante run "Molly + Kate," a retail store in Hamburg. They decided to donate 10% of their Black Friday sales to a local family. Customers and clients asked the women how they could help even after the Black Friday donation ended. The sisters raised $2,000 from local customers before even tallying their Black Friday sales-- enough to adopt ten families for the holidays.

11-year-old Attica girl buys and renovates her own tiny home
Many of us have taken on new hobbies, home renovation projects and baking experiments during the pandemic. One girl in Attica took DIY to the next level when she bought and renovated a camper-turned-tiny-home.

Reporter Taylor Epps introduced us to Lauren Nelson in August. She had just finished her two-month renovation project. What's even more impressive is how she finished it: Nelson paid for the camper and the renovations with money she had saved herself. She named the tiny home Camp Hygge.

Stony Brook Shines lights up the neighborhood for their 13th year
The families that live in Lancaster's Stony Brook Drive neighborhood brought a familiar holiday tradition to a very unfamiliar year. There are 300 homes along Stony Book Drive and its eight side streets, and they are decorated for the holidays.

The neighborhood welcomes drivers to come through and take in some holiday cheer, and hopefully drop off a donation. In 2020, the neighborhood is raising money for WNYHeroes. In their previous 12 years, they've raised $150,000 for different charities.

This year, they're dealing with unprecedented traffic. If you're planning to check out Stony Brook Shines, take a look at the organizers' recommendations.

Three-year-old Grand Island girl deemed 'bird whisperer'
Three-year-old Vivian Budnack stole the hearts of Western New Yorkers over the summer, when reporter Jeddy Johnson introduced this "bird whisperer."

Vivian had tried all summer long to get close to one of the cardinals who visits her family's backyard on Grand Island. Finally, one day one of the birds came right up to her.

“And you know, she’s gonna think she’s a Disney princess now. Stick out my hand and here comes the bird,” her mom said, laughing.

What stories from 2020 inspired you? Share them on social media using #BuffaloStrong.

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Managing the pressure and stopping the stigma

You can help FeedMore WNY respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Buy a #BuffaloStrong t-shirt or hoodie and $7 (100% of proceeds) goes to FeedMore WNY.
  • #Give7 hours to pack emergency food boxes or deliever meals to homebound neighbors
  • #Give7 dollars to provide meals for the locally food-insecure.