BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — You’ve probably seen the Hearts for the Homeless Donation Bins outside grocery stores, or maybe you’ve had a meal from their food delivery truck. Now, the nonprofit is expanding its food pantry in Buffalo’s Riverside Neighborhood.

With thousands out of work during the pandemic, Hearts for the Homeless Outreach Director says the need for food pantries skyrocketed.

“Our food pantry needs increased 300%,” said Skylar Shurr of Hearts for the Homeless. “Now that the pandemic is slowing down, the need remains pretty high. So it forces us to expand in a way.”

That’s where a little help from Frank’s Basement Systems comes into play. The basement in this newly acquired food pantry needs to be able to store canned goods properly. The team from Frank’s Basement Systems volunteered time, and over a dozen employees, to waterproof the space.

Their system takes water in the basement and moves it through a sump pump out of the building. Doing this will make the space ‘up to code’ for food storage.

It’s not an easy job by any means. The 15 volunteers lug buckets of concrete up and down flights of stairs. But Frank DiMaria Sr. says it’s a job they’re happy to do. They’ve had a long friendship with the founders of Hearts for the Homeless.

“We just really believed in the process, and what he believed in, ” said DiMaria. “so, we have been able to give back over many, many years.”

DiMaria anticipates the project will take a day to complete. Shurr says the new pantry should be ready for visitors soon.

Abby Fridmann is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in November 2020. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.