By Joseph Marasciullo
After an urgent call to charitable organizations to address the problem of weekend hunger, more than 20 non-profits and many individuals responded.
The majority benefactor in this cause was Stop and Shop supermarket which donated enough food to feed 80 families in the Huntington area for five weeks.
The call to action germinated with an associate of Tri-Community and Youth Agency (Tri CYA) director Debbie Rimler who pointed out that while the organization had funds to provide food for their young clients during the week, the kids were on their own over the weekend.
A mass email sent by Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards to area non-profits and others received rapid response. Almost immediately, people all around town were making both food and monetary donations.
At a press conference announcing the initiative, Robin Amato, chief development officer for LI Cares, the Island’s largest regional food bank, talked about its various programs, including Pack It Up For Kids and Children’s Breakfast Food Trucks. Pack It Up For Kids provides kids who rely on school lunches during the week with healthy weekend meals as well. The Children’s Breakfast Food Trucks travel around Nassau and Suffolk, providing healthy breakfasts to kids with low food security. Long Island Cares was set to make a significant food donation to this food drive, but Stop and Shop stepped in to donate all of the food.
“One of Stop and Shop’s core values is giving back to the community,” Cindy Carrasquilla, public relations officer for Stop and Shop, said.
Non-profits from across the region stepped up to make donations.
“When the Townwide Fund learned that 50-60 children who attend Tri-CYA were at risk of having nothing to eat during weekends until school starts, the Townwide Fund of Huntington did what it does best: stepped in swiftly to help,” said Vita Scaturro, board member of the Huntington-based human services charity. The board authorized an emergency grant of $2,000 to make sure that the children do not go hungry.
“We invite the community to join us in making sure that the Tri-CYA children have food this summer,” Scaturro added. “You can drop off food at the center at 809 New York Avenue, or you can send a check. Any size donation is needed.”
Townwide Fund was just one of many organizations that responded. Also making donations were: Leadership Huntington; American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, Boy Scouts of America; Suffolk County Girl Scouts; Huntington Community First Aid Squad; Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps; Huntington Public Library; South Huntington Public Library; Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce; YMCA of Huntington; Kiwanis of Huntington; HORC Leadership Council; Workforce Development Institute; Huntington Branch NAACP; Huntington Station Business Improvement District; Suffolk County Department of Labor; The Lions Club; Rotary Club; The Loyal Order of the Moose; St. Joseph’s College; Get 2 Work; National Grid; PSEG Long Island; the law firm Harras, Bloom & Archer; Dale Carnegie & Associates; The Money Source Inc.; Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation Inc.; and many individuals.
Edwards said the support was “overwhelming.” Representatives from donating organizations brought checks and food donations. There were girl scouts placing more food on the already full shopping carts on display, while a member of the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps presented a check to Rimler. St. Joseph’s College associate dean Gail Lamberta, Ph.D. showed a photo of a carload of food being delivered to the Stop and Shop event by another individual benefactor. Someone even snuck a set of toy cars onto the carts.
Edwards told those gathered that the response was “not only a testament to the organizations and the businesses that you belong to, but of you as individuals.” She added this event is just the beginning. “I have a whole bunch of other ideas that I know we are going to do together.”