By Danny Schrafel
A Huntington charity that provides necessities and toys for needy families across Long Island – especially during the holiday season – was reeling after its founder said someone broke into its warehouse last week and stole meals for 150 people.
But an outpouring of support in the aftermath was punctuated Tuesday by a $3,000 Townwide Fund of Huntington grant.
When Townwide Fund Executive Director Trish Rongo heard the news, the organization sprang to action, she said.
“This demonstrates yet another way we fulfill our mission – that money raised in Huntington helps those in Huntington,” she said.
It was the largest of countless gifts that came in after the incident. Reach CYA contributed $250 in gift cards, Finley Middle School and Huntington High School students filled dozens of bags of food, and countless backers stepped up to lend their support.
Toys of Hope founder Melissa Doktofsky said the community has rallied for Toys of Hope in unprecedented fashion.
“Living here, running the charity from this town has been one of the greatest joys of my life, but then to see my neighbors and my community rally behind our organization… that touches me on a personal level,” she said. “That is such an endorsement of our 20 years of work here.”
A day earlier, Doktofsky said that the suspect, who was caught on surveillance cameras, pried open the door to the charity’s Huntington Station warehouse on East 2nd Street at 1 p.m. Nov. 16 and made off with about 50 boxes of food. The suspect dumped a car seat and other items from her car so she could fit more stolen goods into her vehicle.
At the time, Doktofsky said the incident is “beyond upsetting.”
“It’s hard to fathom,” she said.
Doktofsky has since called Suffolk County police after giving the culprit a week since last Sunday to return the food. The theft delayed food deliveries, she said, and Toys of Hope volunteers will also have to scour the warehouse to ensure that nothing has been tampered with.
While surveillance cameras did not get not get suspect’s face on video, Doktofsky said the video captures the suspect’s car. The suspect left a piece of paper behind with a name on it, she added.
In the meantime, Doktofsky said Toys of Hope is taking steps to tighten security. The founder is calling on her supporters over the last 20 years to continue to donate food, money or gift cards for supermarkets and other stores in small denominations.
The people hurt most by the theft, Doktofsky said, were the people Toys of Hope assists.
“We need to stand strong,” she said.
For more information on making a donation, visit www.toysofhope.org. Donations can also be dropped off in person during daytime hours at 640 New York Ave., Huntington.