MIAMI - Feeding the hungry makes a difference when the given, give back.

Last week, officials from the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma and Buffalo Run Casino presented a check for $2,420 and 1,774 non-perishable canned goods and food items to the Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry in Miami.  

The donation was a contribution from the casino's employees and patrons who collected the food during the past month.

With pantry cupboards running low and the need increasing the donation is a blessing, according to volunteers.

Peoria Chief John Froman, Buffalo Run Casino General Manager Steve Bashore, Giving Back Project Coordinator Jerry Venis and several casino employees showed up at the pantry to unload and donate a large load of food items.

“We have had a competition amongst the departments of who can bring in the most food over the last month,” Venis said. “It was also our players; they were a big part of bringing food as well.”

Bracelets were also sold with “Help Stop Hunger” stamped on them to support the food bank.

“That’s where the money was collected, and the Tribe chipped in $2,000,” Venis said.

Venis said the food collection effort was in the fifth year for the Ministerial Alliance as part of the Giving Back program.

Buffalo Run’s Stephanie Mahurin, with Cage and Vault, Donna Smith from Human Resources, and Angela Dahl from the Accounting departments brought in the most food for the drive.

“On behalf of the employees of Buffalo Run Casino, this is part of their Giving Back program to the community, and they'd like to give you this check for the Ministerial Alliance,” Froman said.

“It's very nice of you guys,” volunteer Bonnie Jones said. “Let me tell you, we will use this fast. I've had customers in line all day today. We’re open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and we’re busy, busy, busy with needy people that need help with their utilities and their food."

“We hope this can help,” Venis said.

“More than you will ever know,” Jones said. “Thank you all so much, we so appreciate it.”

Bashore thanked Venis and all of the casino staff for their efforts.

“It was also our players. They were a big part in bringing food as well,” Venis said.

The contribution to the food bank is just one of six charitable causes the Buffalo Run Casino gives to with the support of the Peoria Tribe’s Giving Back program since 2006.

“During the month of August, we will be focusing on the INTEGRIS Generations program. We’re doing, ‘Let’s All Go To the Movies,’ collecting videos and movies for the patients of Generations to help during their down time and recreation,” Venis said. “We want to give back because it’s the community that supports us and we want to support community projects throughout the area.”

“When I came here in 2004, and this is a true story, Chief Froman said, 'When you come here, one thing we’re going to do is, we want to be involved in the community. Our Tribe is here, our people are here,’ So, I’ve got to thank Chief on this, because he honestly spearheads this, he leads by example,” Bashore said. “If it wasn’t for the Tribe we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Froman was humbled and said, “The true credit goes to the employees. They are the ones that are on the ground, and got all this food, sold the bracelets, and informed the players to make sure they knew about the need.”