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NIAGARA FALLS – The holiday season isn’t often a happy one for the poor and hungry, and the recent spell of wintry weather has only escalated the needs of those who rely on the services of the Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier.

Citizens Bank Foundation recently awarded the organization’s Community Soup Kitchen program a $4,000 check in support of its hunger relief efforts. wOpen six days a week, the kitchen serves an average of 125 individuals each day and often provides more than just a warm meal to those in need. Participants take home loaves of bread provided by local bakeries and have the opportunity to visit the “clothes closet” to select from donated clothes, accessories and household items.

“Many individuals and families are facing challenging times, and their budgets are stretched,” said James P. Gaspo, president of Citizens Bank, New York. “By supporting Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, we can ensure that our neighbors have a place to go when they need a nutritious meal and support from their community.”

The support from the Citizens Bank Foundation will go directly to purchase food for the kitchen. In 2013, the agency has seen a 20 percent increase in its crisis housing services, while the winter months are typically the busiest for Community Missions’ Crisis Services. “We are so thankful for the support of the Citizens Bank Foundation,” said Krueger. “The Community Soup Kitchen helps hundreds of people each week, and we literally could not do so without the generosity of organizations like the Citizens Bank Foundation. This gift comes at a wonderful time for the agency, as this will be the busiest time of the year across our Crisis Service programs.”

“That 20 percent hike in our crisis housing services is massive for us, and we haven’t even totaled the numbers for December yet, and we’ve had all of this snow, ice and cold,” added Community Missions spokesman Christian Hoffman.

Hoffman said he is still amazed at the number of community outreach programs Community Missions provides, after less than a year as an employee.

“We have an Adopt-a-Family program, where local organizations and families have adopted 160 families with 400 children getting presents this year,” he said. “We have a youth program that placed ‘angel trees’ throughout the community, and they’ve been picking up the gifts left for that. We have hygiene bags that have been collected, as well as gloves, hats and mittens. And our big Christmas meal will be held Monday.”

“We are always in need – now more than ever,” he said.

Last year, Community Missions provided more than 70,000 meals and more than 9,000 nights of care with its crisis services programs. Additional agency programs serve adults and youths with psychiatric disabilities, parolees, at-risk youth and other underserved populations. For more information, visit: www.communitymissions.org.

Citizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on human services, affordable housing and economic development. For more information, visit: citizensbank.com.