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Daily News - Bobby Murcer delivereed a big hit for Glory of Christ Church
Bobby Murcer contributed $5,000 to the Glory of Christ Church soup kitchen just before cancer struck.
Bobby Murcer contributed $5,000 to the Glory of Christ Church soup kitchen just before cancer struck.
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Daily News - Bobby Murcer delivereed a big hit for Glory of Christ Church

Posted by: Angel Rosario on Wed, Dec 9, 2009

If you really want to know how hard the economic meltdown is hitting people, check out the population that turns to the soup kitchens run by churches and charitable groups.

 

If you really want to know how hard the economic meltdown is hitting people, check out the population that turns to the soup kitchens run by churches and charitable groups.

Bobby Murcer contributed $5,000 to the Glory of Christ Church soup kitchen just before cancer struck.

It used to be undocumented immigrants from China, the Dominican RepublicEcuador,Mexico, even the Middle East, who had nowhere else to go for help who came to the Glory of Christ Church on Ellis Ave. for a hot meal in the church basement every other Saturday.

"We open our doors to anybody," said Maria Rivera, deaconess at the nondenominational Christian church, near the Cross-Bronx Expressway.

Now, there are more working-class families coming for food and clothing.

"Everything's changed," Rivera said.

"This economy is so bad, now we have working people. Some are paying close to $1,600 in rent, and rents keep going up. They work, so they don't qualify for anything.

"Some say they have lost their job. We have people from all walks of life."

She said she is seeing a lot of families - single mothers and grandparents - come in, rather than young men.

The church members started a soup kitchen more than a year ago, where folks can lunch on beef, chicken and lasagna, "not just soup and a sandwich," said Rivera, who runs the cooking.

It was launched by a donation from Yankees mainstay Bobby Murcer in the fall of 2006.

One of the church's members was a chauffeur. He was driving Murcer to Yankee Stadiumand mentioned that Glory of Christ's pastor, Raymond Talavera, wanted to start a soup kitchen.

"Bobby Murcer sent us a check for $5,000," Rivera said.

They bought turkeys, chickens, pots and pans, a freezer.

"Our first meal was at Christmastime," she recalled.

The joy brought by Murcer's spontaneous act of charity came as he got the worst news of his life.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Christmas Eve 2006 after having headaches. He had surgery that week, and doctors later discovered the tumor was malignant.

The lifelong Yankee returned to the broadcast booth last year and briefly this season to call games.

When Murcer became stricken with brain cancer, the Glory of Christ Church members prayed for him.

"He said he always wanted to come by," Rivera said. "But he got sick."

Murcer died July 12 after a valiant battle.

Again, the congregation prayed, this time, a special prayer for his family, Rivera said.

"We are still using that money, still feeding people with that money," she said.

"He gave it out of his heart."

A few weeks ago, the church started a food pantry. They give out shopping bags of rice, beans, pasta, canned tuna and corned beef.

 

The congregation of 150 people is composed of transit workers, teachers and emergency medical service workers.

They contribute to a special offering every Sunday that goes toward the food.

"Everything is coming from our members," Rivera said.

And the members themselves are feeling the economic pinch.

"When they go grocery shopping, they buy an extra can of food, or a tube of toothpaste," she said.

Some members clip supermarket coupons for Rivera, and she also buys wholesale to stretch the limited funds.

"We don't ask for money, but for donations of food or clothes," she said.

The church is housed in a former synagogue with stained glass windows of Jewish stars, remnants of its glory days before it was abandoned and ruined by vandals.

It was once known as the Jewish Center of Unionport, established in 1924.

Piles of used or new donated clothing, and kids' backpacks and toys fill what was once the rabbi's office.

The church members go out and look for people on the streets who might be desperately hungry, targeting the bottle and can redemption centers, for example.

"It is overwhelming, when you realize how much need is out there," said Rivera.

She got teary-eyed when she recalled how, a few weeks ago, a congregant encountered a woman walking on Castle Hill Ave. with three young kids.

"She was crying, and he asked her what was wrong. She said she had enough food in her home for one more meal for the kids, and didn't have money to buy more until she got paid in a week.

"He brought her here; she was so happy," Rivera said. She left with six shopping bags of food.

"With the little bit we have," Rivera said, nodding firmly, "I think we do a lot."


 

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