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118-year-old Buffalo tradition emerges from COVID lockdown

The Maria Love Fund Charity Ball logo
Maria M. Love Convalescent Fund

A Buffalo tradition is coming back from COVID-19 lockdown.

The Children's Charity Ball has been a local fundraising institution in Buffalo for more than a century, in various sites for middle school and high school-aged kids. The ball goes back to 1903, with the proceeds going to the Maria M. Love Convalescent Fund.

COVID rules mean the Nov. 6 event at Buffalo RiverWorks this year will be high school only. COVID shots or a recent negative test will be required to attend. There are discounted tests available.

Co-Chair Darcy Zacher said Love was a mainstay of helping people, especially in the immigrant community of that day.

"Maria Love was the woman in the Buffalo community who organized charities," Zacher said. "She had her first kindergarten so working mothers would drop their children off. She'd change their clothes, wash them, fold them, iron them, put them in uniform for the day, feed them healthy meals, home-grown vegetables, playground, give them an education and then the mothers could pick back up in their own clothes."

Zacher said the fund today helps people deal with the high costs of medical care.

"Playground equipment in respite homes for handicapped children," she said. "The stories that we give for the money is really helping people stay in their homes. Let's say your eyeglasses break, we help pay at certain eyeglass places and replace them without losing their job, losing their vision, losing their homes. These are our most fragile."

She said as a young person, the co-chair attended the ball, not knowing her future husband, a young man she didn't know then, was also in attendance.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.