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Three men on a mission

The Joshua Foundation has spent years raising money and supplies for developing countries, mostly in Africa, but this year, Hodges wanted to do something local.

"I was talking to The Rev. Dr. Edward Smart in the church [First Israel AME Church, in Albany], and he was telling me how his funding got cut and that he is feeding more people than ever on Wednesdays," Hodges said, explaining that the church feeds anyone in the community who needs a meal on Wednesdays.

Hodges knew he wanted to help, but was not sure how.

So, he called his old friend, Casey, to ask for some advice.

"I asked him who might be able to help from his old circle [of friends]," said Casey, "And then I said, 'Well, Dave's got that big business down on Carman. Maybe he can help.'"

Hodges contacted O'Connell, owner of Con-Rel Auto Electric, on Carman Road in Guilderland, asking if his business could contribute to a food drive Hodges wanted to hold for the church.

"He knew where to get me and we kept in touch and he hit me with this idea and it sounded like a very good idea," said O'Connell.

Through Hodges, O'Connell and Casey were able to reconnect and the three began working to bring in as much fresh food as possible.

O'Connell asked his oil and auto suppliers for monetary donations, while Casey and Hodges asked for assistance from people they knew throughout the community.

The trio was able to talk to food wholesalers and get discounted prices on fresh meat and vegetables.

"We got ground beef, beef for stew, ribs, a lot of chicken and hot dogs -- cases and cases of hot dogs," said Hodges.

The Rev. Smart was not available for comment, but Hodges said that when they presented the food to the Hamilton Street church during the week between Christmas and New Year's, they were told that the amount would surely be enough to feed nearly 6,000 people, and would hopefully be able to last for every Wednesday for four or five months.

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