When the Oyster Bay Rotary looked for a way to help the community facing the COVID-19 pandemic, they chose the nonprofit People Loving People because of their community outreach. They run a food pantry in Oyster Bay that allows businesses and families to donate to those in need.
Rotary President and former New York State Senator Carl Marcellino said, “We presented a $1,800 check to The People’s Pantry on behalf of our Oyster Bay Rotary club.”
The presentation took place outside the TOB Community Center on Friday, May 15.
The PLP co-directors, Donna Romano Galgano of Oyster Bay, Gina Kang of Port Washington, and Valerie Monroy of Commack, met while working together at a food pantry in Manhasset, run by the Shelter Rock Church. They first opened their Oyster Bay food pantry, November, 2019, Fridays, in the TOB Community Center.
Galgano said, “We originally had a group of seniors and a group of low-income OB residents coming to our pantry weekly.”
They learned of the need from the Oyster Bay Life Enrichment Center and the Youth and Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay and East Norwich.
On Friday mornings, between 8:30 am and 10:30 a.m., donations arrive from members of the community and merchants. “We regularly get about 15 to 20 families donating that day and also, another ten to 12 families on Wednesdays.”
The recipients line up at the OBHS parking lot, and at 11 a.m., about seven cars at a time are allowed to turn into the municipal lot off Main Street. “We have assistance of traffic volunteers and public safety to help keep traffic in check,” she explained.
As they drive into the lot, the east side of the Oyster Bay Community Center looks like a one-aisle supermarket. Tables filled with produce line the sidewalk, loaded with foodstuffs organized by tables offering: bread, pies, cookies, vegetables, fruit, meat and toiletries. Galgano said, “That includes non-perishable items like peanut butter, jelly, cereal, canned veggies, canned fruit, and items like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes.
“We have weekly donations from Youngs Farm, Christina’s Epicure, East Norwich Bagel, Holiday Farms in Glen Head, Leonetti Bakery, and R/S Meats in Huntington as well weekly donations from LI Cares and Island Harvest. And bunch of other local organizations have been helping too, like the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts and a local bike riding club.”
Judy Wasilchuk, Rotary treasurer commented, “Donna’s an amazing person for having gotten this together with all the details involved.” Galgano said, “To be honest we give all the glory to God for connecting all the dots and making it all work out each week just perfectly.”
The program needs a lot of helpers. Galgano said, “The volunteers include many who have served at the Shelter Rock Food Pantry with us for the past five years; family members, friends, and the OB community.” Oyster Bay Rotarian, Ed Curry Sr. has been helping. He and his wife Carol and son Ed. Jr., helped with traffic that day.
The need for the program increased with the current situation. “When COVID-19 hit, we found many more people reaching out to us via email, phone and our Facebook page. Each week we also post our food distribution on the OB Facebook Parents page, and on the Bayville, Locust Valley and Glove Cove sites, to try to reach and assist as many people in need right now, as we can.”
Before the current pandemic they served about 50 clients a week. “Now, our biggest number was 250, going down more recently to 224. In total, we reach about 140 clients from the OB-EN area, another 40 from Glen Cove, and the rest from Syosset, Hicksville and Bayville.”
PLP is a nonprofit, supported by many locally, including Shelter Rock Church. Donations made out to People Loving People can mailed to: PLP, 22 The Boulevard Bayville, NY, 11709. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 516-945-9738.