BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — When times are tough, Buffalo always steps up in a big way. That's been the case since Saturday's deadly mass shooting at a Tops on Jefferson Avenue.
"It feels like somebody just ripped the insides out of you and it hurts so bad," Bills legend Bruce Smith said. "But we will make this community stronger, hopefully put more smiles on these folks faces, and spend some time with them and let them know that we love them."
It's why Smith, fellow Buffalo Bills alumni, Sabres alumni, and team executives took time out of their Thursdays to help their community heal.
"That's who we are. That's what this city is all about. That's Bills Mafia," Bills legend Jim Kelly said. "We're all part of it and these guys understand that we all need to pull together."
Bills alumni are volunteering their time at the Resource Council of WNY. Alumni here include Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelly, and Bruce Smith. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is also here pitching in. @WKBW #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/9T8biJ5jFf— Jenna Callari (@jennacallari) May 19, 2022
"We just had to be here to actually be physically here," owner Kim Pegula said. "To just see it hits you really hard. Seeing those names, seeing the location, a lot of things go through your mind. So I think it was really important for us to help absorb some of the pain and be here."
The Pegulas along with several other former players visited the Tops on Jefferson Avenue to lay flowers at the memorial for the ten victims. They then drove over to the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation Community Center on East Ferry where they helped to collect donations, handed out bags of food and personal items, and had conversations with so many who are hurting.
"The message from me to the people is things will get better and I really believe that," owner Terry Pegula said.
"I bet you this racist did not count on this outpouring of love that's taking place right now, the strengthening of this community that's going on right now," Bruce Smith said. "We're gonna build upon that."
And the generosity extends beyond the two organizations. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in town to offer his help to the Buffalo community. Goodell is originally from Jamestown and has often come back to WNY to take part in Jim Kelly's annual golf fundraiser.
"We believe this is our community too and I have a personal connection because this really is my home," Goodell said. "We wanted to make sure people here knew they weren't alone and how proud we are of the way they're responding."
The Buffalo Renaissance Foundation Community Center has served over 2,500 people so far this week and have had over 400 volunteers.