By Christmas eve, the Robinsons had given shelter to about 120 people.
Al Robinson and his wife, Vivian were all set to celebrate the holidays with their nine children and had purchased the food that they would need for two weeks. But due to the blizzard, they ended up using that food to serve about 130 people for two days, as reported by TODAY.
They were looking forward to spending time and cooking together with their nine children in Buffalo, New York. Robinson said, "The kids are all grown, but we spend the holidays together.” "We got enough food for two weeks for all of us." When the cyclone turned into a blizzard on December 23, Robinson and Vivian, knew they had to do their part for the community. Robinson is a pastor at Spirit of Truth Urban Ministry. They stay on the church’s campus and when they came to know that in their neighborhood, residents of Lovejoy were stuck in 12-foot snow, they decided to open the church doors for them. He said, "We had people that were freezing to death.” "You could not drive and the windchill factor dipped down into the negative 20s, so it hurts your face to walk around."
They also took the help of a friend who has a snowmobile. "He was the point guy for the rescue operations and retrieving people and bringing them to the church," said Robinson. "He would get them along with their cats, dogs, and whatever else that they might have and bring them." The couple used a Facebook page to request people to come to the church. They were so afraid that someone would be frozen to death outside their doors that “they broke the doors so they would not auto lock anymore.”
By Christmas eve, the Robinsons had given shelter to about 120 people. "By Christmas Day, we swelled to well over that (number)," Robinson said.
There were people of all age groups. Robinson said, "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." He added, “We had five different kinds of ethnic foods from Hispanic to Arabian and Italian.” "We had it all here. It was just fantastic."
Moreover, the couple moved all the beds and mattresses from a rehabilitation center that they had recently sold to build a larger center. He said, "We used every one of those mattresses and beds to house all these people.” "It was just crazy. I mean, it's like all the life that we have lived before was for this one moment in time." Robinson credits his faith that gave him the “ability” to help others. "People need to realize that if God has given them the ability to help someone else, it is incumbent upon them to help someone else," said Robinson. "We weren’t expecting any of this chaos at all. God just knew what was going to happen before it even happened. And he already supplied the need before the need was needed."
A Buffalo resident Maria Colon called Robinson “an angel” and stated a quote by Margaret J Wheatley which reads, "There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
This is a developing story, and we’ll update you as we learn more. Information about the Buffalo snowstorm is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency of developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. You can check for information and seek help at Buffalo Blizzard Resources.