Volunteer gas pumpers also raise money for PAWS, red kettle

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2020 at 9:16 am

Group nearing 17 years of pumping gas for senior citizens

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary Westlund pumps gas for a local senior citizen on Wednesday at Crosby’s in Albion at the corner of routes 31 and 98.

ALBION – A dedicated group that has pumped gas every Wednesday morning the past 16 years for senior citizens has also raised about $600 this year for the PAWS animal shelter in Albion.

The Albion Betterment Committee has spearheaded the effort every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Crosby’s gas station on Route 31. Besides pumping the gas, the ABC pays for a 10-cent discount per gallon.

Few of the senior citizens accept the discount. Most choose to give it back for ABC to donate to PAWS. That has added up to $600 this year.

The Betterment Committee this holiday season also is directing some of those unclaimed discounts to the Salvation Army red kettle drive. That is up to $120 so far. Community Action runs the red kettle campaign in Orleans County. This year they aren’t having in-person bell ringers due to Covid-19.

Gary Kent, one of the ABC directors and a gas pumper, wanted to send some money to the red kettle campaign, which continues with countertop kettles in some stores.

Gary Westlund knocks some snow off the windshield and wipers of a vehicle driven by a senior citizen.

Kent sees the gas pumping as a way to assist senior citizens and make a weekly connection with those residents.

He praised a group of local veterans who have been dedicated to the effort, including Gary Westlund and Clarence Winkelmann. Joe Gehl, an ABC director and Korean War veteran, also has been very supportive of the effort.

Westlund, a Marine and retired materials manager at Delphi in Rochester, drives from Spencerport to Albion every Wednesday to pump gas for senior citizens. On Wednesday, he also wiped snow off their windshields.

Fay DeClerk

“He is as dependable as the sun rises,” said Kent, a retired social studies teacher at Kendall.

Sometimes the volunteers will check car fluids and walk the money inside the store so seniors don’t have to get out in the cold.

They also will open doors for other customers at Crosby’s and offer a friendly greeting.

Kent said the volunteers show no signs of slowing down from the weekly commitment. In February, they will mark 17 years of pumping gas for seniors.

“It’s a good cause,” Westlund said. He also visits family on his weekly trips to Albion.

Fay DeClerk appreciates the volunteers being so reliable and helpful on Wednesday mornings.

“They’ve pumped my gas a lot of times,” she said Wednesday morning. ‘It’s nice of them.”