The Magdalene Project is holding a fundraiser from 1 to 6 p.m. today at the Cristoforo Columbo Society, 2223 Pine Ave.
The fundraiser will feature a casual chicken dinner and musical entertainment, to raise funds for the work of director Joanne Lorenzo, whose center serves a wide range of the poor and needy. The Second Chance Band will perform. Tickets are $15.
Lorenzo created the Magdalene Project more than a decade ago to provide assistance to "ladies of the night" as she calls them. Her outreach began with her taking volunteers into the community every Friday night to hand out sandwiches, Bibles and roses to local prostitutes. The women were invited to come to her center for nourishment, both mentally, physically and spiritually.
Since then, Lorenzo has expanded her mission. And while she can use help all year long, she especially needs assistance during the holiday season, when she, like so many others, wants to make sure no one goes without.
She and her volunteers are getting ready to start filling Christmas stockings for a holiday celebration planned for area children at 1 p.m. Dec. 15 on the second floor of the Niagara Falls Public Library on Main Street.
About 400 kids will get hot chocolate, a stocking with candy and toys, and blankets created especially for children from the volunteers at the Linus Project.
She and her volunteers also do a Boxes of Love Christmas giveaway for families at 4 p.m. Dec. 19, when families can come to the Magdalene Center and get a box of groceries including a turkey, ham or chicken, while each child will receive a toy.
When asked how people can help, Lorenzo said, "They can help us for Christmas especially wrapping presents, putting together Christmas stockings and they can even help by buying toys large or small."
She also needs turkeys, chickens or hams and other groceries. For those who want to help but don't have time to shop, a gift card will do.
Throughout the year, there is always a need for volunteers at the Magdalene Project. "We’re looking for volunteers for our office. We need people to make flyers for us and run around the community and drop them off."
There is also always a need for help in the kitchen, because the center provides two lunches a week and dinner on Thursdays. The dinners are courtesy of Niagara University students and staff.
Meantime, the weekly trek into the community has grown, with the effort also fortified by students at Niagara University.
The van is now a mobile food pantry. "We go to the motels and bring food to people in need. Every week we go to the bus station with groceries and bagged lunches," Lorenzo said, adding, "There are certain spots in the city we go to each Friday, where we know homeless people are and we bring them gloves, blankets and food."
For those considering assisting her mission, she has these words: "We need people who have a heart for those who are homeless or low income and want to give your time. Time is the most important to give — more than money."
For those who give, she points out, the gift is always returned in some way back to the giver.
"When people walk out of here, they say they feel so much better," she said of her volunteers.
The Magdalene Project is located at 1910 Fall St., in the basement of St. George's Cathedral. Joanne Lorenzo can be reached by calling 282 - 0908 or visiting online at ww.magdalene-project.org