A Buffalo couple opened up the church where they lived to feed and offer refuge to dozens of strangers.
Al and Vivien Robinson initially planned to spend Christmas with their children.
Instead, the couple fed some 130 people and set up beds and mattresses to shelter locals.
A couple in Buffalo is being hailed as heroes for feeding more than 100 people during the blizzard that has left at least 39 dead.
Al Robinson is a pastor with the Spirit Of Truth Urban Ministry in the Buffalo neighborhood of Lovejoy. He and his wife Vivien live on the church campus.
Robinson told TODAY that he and Vivien had initially planned to spend Christmas weekend with their nine children, who were visiting from out of town. They stocked up on food for their family, but upon learning of trapped residents in their neighborhood, the couple decided to switch plans.
“We had people that were freezing to death,” Robinson said.
The couple used their Facebook profiles and groups like Buffalo Blizzard Response to encourage locals to take shelter at their church.
“Those that are stranded and stuck in Lovejoy, we are offering shelter here at the church. We do not want anybody to freeze,” Robinson wrote on his Facebook profile, along with the church’s address and phone number.
With the two weeks stock of food they had, they were able to feed around 130 people over the weekend.
“People were elderly. We had a 92-year-old that needed oxygen. We had 9-month-olds that needed formula. We had so many things going on and every one of those needs were met,” Robinson told TODAY.
“I just do not want anyone going hungry. God is shedding His grace on my neighbors,” Robinson wrote on a Facebook post on December 29.
In a Facebook video posted on December 27, Robinson said he delivered food and baby formula to people who couldn’t make it to the church because of the cold weather. The couple also set up beds and mattresses in the church center to shelter locals, per TODAY.
Tametha Ann Brookins, one of the locals the couple helped, expressed gratitude for donating food to her family.
“I’m in tears. I’ve been feeling forsaken and lost hope in the people around me,” Brookins wrote on the Buffalo Blizzard Response page on December 28. “The bags of food you dropped off today have relieved this fear that I wasn’t going to be able to feed myself or kids and I’m breathing easier today.”
Robinson and Brookins did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Robinson and Vivien aren’t the only good Samaritans who helped their community during the blizzard in Buffalo.
Sha’Kyra Aughtry saved a disabled man’s life when she heard him screaming for help outside her home. She and her boyfriend spent two days caring for the man — who has been identified as Joe White — until he was finally sent to the hospital.
And an unidentified Buffalo resident, who has been dubbed “Jay” by Cheektowaga police, rescued strangers who were trapped in cars.
“He left a note apologizing for the damage & use of the snow blower he used to make a path to the school,” Cheektowaga police wrote on Twitter on 30 December. “We want to thank “Jay” for his heroic actions that saved people’s lives.”
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