Feb. 24—Sam Murray believes in giving back.
As the covid-19 pandemic got underway, he and his wife began making masks to sell, eventually raising $3,000 for the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
Over the past couple months, the owner of Sam's Salsa in Irwin also has been delivering free lunches to local groups that have continued to serve their communities on the front lines, including North Huntingdon and McKeesport police, intensive care nurses at Allegheny Health Network's Forbes Hospital in Monroeville and others.
On Wednesday, Murray was back at the food bank, delivering tacos, black beans and rice and chips with salsa for folks who stopped by to volunteer packing food boxes.
Murray said folks who have heard about what he's doing have started donating to the business.
"Our customers are really helping to make this happen," he said. "It's a community effort, and what the food bank is doing is very important to me and my family."
To give food bank volunteers an extra smile, Murray brought along longtime friend and former Greensburg Salem art teacher Raphael Pantalone, who drew a sign thanking food bank workers and handed out drawings to those picking up lunch.
Another local group helping Murray is the Norwin Area Democrats, who have donated to his efforts. Club member Mariann Robertson was on hand Wednesday helping to set up meal stations.
"All of these restaurants are struggling, including Sam's, but he's still going out and giving free food to first responders," Robertson said. "So we decided to donate in hopes that he can do even more."
Murray said it's the least he can do, considering the amount of time and effort food bank staff and volunteers put in.
"These people hand out stuff all the time, and rarely get anything back," he said. "So even a small token of our gratitude is something I wanted to do."
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, email@example.com or via Twitter .