Stockton loses a warrior in the fight against hunger

“Do we have any special prayer requests?” Arlene Mazzara, Zion Lutheran’s food pantry director, asked as she joined hands with a dozen other volunteers before the 11 a.m. opening of Zion Lutheran Church’s Food Pantry earlier this year. “Lord Jesus, we come to you with our prayers for the people who come through these doors. We are here to help them in any way.”

I listened and watched as Mazzara prayed with her volunteers. I listened and watched as she opened the doors to the food pantry and welcomed the needy. She was something to behold. With her thick New York accent, she worked the hall like a pro. Pointing out the fresh flowers donated by Trader Joe’s, she said it was a rare treat for the folks who had come to fill their bags with food. She didn’t mention it at the time, but she was allergic to the blooms. It wasn’t about her, it was about them.

On Wednesday, Mazzara died of a massive heart attack. I wouldn’t have known, except a friend of hers called to tell me. Her family, he said, didn’t have enough money to pay for an obituary. Much less the cremation she would have wanted.

A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Zion Lutheran. In lieu of flowers, because she is allergic, donations of canned food for her beloved food pantry are requested. Donations can be dropped off at Zion Lutheran, which is located at 808. W. Porter Ave., in Stockton.

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