SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The first significant snow of the winter has arrived, signaling the official start of the holiday season. When thinking of this time of year, one may think of the various gifts and treats that are shared between loved ones. However some within the community struggle the most this time of year.
The Samaritan Center is a soup kitchen that serves meals to the less fortunate every day of the year, even during storms and holidays. For more than six years, Amy Rossi has been working as the volunteer coordinator at the Samaritan Center. After previously being a stay-at-home mother, Amy wanted to be more involved with the community.
“Lately I’ve had to cancel volunteers because we have so many,” Rossi said. “But usually in January it dies down a lot and every July and August of each year it’s difficult to get volunteers in. But holidays, Christmas, volunteers are banging down the door here.”
Rossi said she thinks that vacations and family time decrease the rate of participation in July and August.
One of the biggest events the Samaritan Center hosts during this time is the annual Christmas dinner.
“Every Christmas we have folks from our Jewish community come in and they will financially sponsor the Christmas-themed meal,” Rossi said. ” They’ll purchase a gift for each of our guests and usually it’s a travel mug with a pair of gloves, a hat, a scarf, hand warmers, chap stick, those sorts of things that our guests find it very difficult to access.”
Helping these guests is what motivates Rossi to continue giving back to the community. According to volunteer Chase Connolly, Rossi’s hands-on approach with the volunteers is what makes her such a great coordinator.
“Amy’s awesome, she’s so energetic. “Connolly said. “Every time you see her, she has a smile on her face, she’s running around doing stuff.
“She could very easily hide in her office and not help, but she’s very hands-on in the work that the Samaritan Center does,” he added. “You’ll see her helping out mopping the floor, doing the dishes, she’s just kind of a jack-of -all trades in that building.”
Rossi said it’s one way she can give back to the community of Syracuse.