A Season Of Generosity: Providing for the community this Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving and the holiday season are a time of year to reflect on what we’re grateful for and to prioritize spending time with loved ones. Year after year, traditions such as Thanksgiving dinner, is something that many look forward to.
But not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford putting a Thanksgiving dinner on the table. And some are even left out in the cold because they are homeless and unsheltered.
There are several local organizations that work year-round to make life just a little easier for people struggling with food-insecurity or homelessness. According to Feed America, one out of four people on Long Island struggle with food insecurity. And on Long Island, 9,687 people experienced homeless in 2019, according to Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.
The following will summarize what local non-profits are doing to address nutritional, shelter and other needs year around, and especially during this season.
Food pantries:
There are many community-based food pantries that serve just the North Shore, including The Porch Pantry and NOSH in Glen Cove and People Loving People in Oyster Bay. These non-profits were founded near and during the pandemic, and became essential at a time that needs were increasing due to the financial crisis and other ramifications caused by the pandemic.
The Porch Pantry started in March of 2020, serving seven families with food dropped off by community members on Velentzas’ porch. Today, The Porch Pantry serves about 200 families through non-perishables donated by the community, as well as fresh food bought by financial donations.
“We’re still doing deliveries for mostly local Glen Cove families,” said Kimberly Conte Velentzas, a founder of The Porch Pantry. “We are just trying to get ready for the upcoming holidays.”
The Porch Pantry has been holding food drives at the Deep Roots Farmers Market in Garvies Point; and grocery stores Locust Valley Market and Holiday Market in Glen Head. For Thanksgiving, The Porch Pantry will distribute Thanksgiving meals to families by hosting its third annual “Adopt A Family.”
“Local community members and volunteers of ours adopt a family to provide a holiday meal and a little extra,” Velentzas said. “We will get fresh turkey or chicken for families who can utilize them. We try to get produce this time of year… We’ve been very lucky that the Glen Cove community and beyond has supported us the last two-and-a-half years monetarily and with their time.”
To assist with The Porch Pantry’s mission, make a donation or learn how to volunteer at www.theporchpantry.com or drop off non-perishable food at 99 McLoughin St. in Glen Cove.
There is also NOSH Delivers Inc., also known as NOSH, that serves the communities on the North Shore. According to its website, the mission of NOSH is to “…safely deliver meals to the homes of families and individuals in need of food assistance with dignity and respect. Weekly, NOSH volunteers deliver hundreds of ‘NOSH Bags’ to homes on the North Shore peninsula. At the height of the pandemic, NOSH was delivering to more than 500 families every week. NOSH Bags are emergency meal kits containing the ingredients to prepare two meals for a family of four. Larger families receive additional NOSH Bags. We strive to provide food ingredients that are fresh and nutritious as possible. NOSH’s activities are entirely funded through donations from neighbors and friends.”
This year, NOSH will continue to distribute fresh turkeys or chickens, Board Chair of NOSH Christine Rice said.
“Depending on what we get donated, we are more than open to donations from people,” Rice, who is also the executive director of the Glen Cove Senior Center, said. “Either monetary donations or food donations so that we can provide food to all our families and additional ones that might need it during the holiday season.”
While NOSH continues to deliver, people can now visit NOSH in person at 32 School St. in Glen Cove from the rear entrance, right next to the GLY Religious Store.
“We’re open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 [a.m.] to 1 [p.m.],” Rice said. “We still have our delivery service, but we also have a walk-in pantry now at that location as well. People can walk in and pick what food they like.”
Visit www.noshdelivers.org/ to support NOSH’s vision and donate. Email info@noshdelivers.org to volunteer.
Additionally, Long Island Cares and Island Harvest are staples to the community.
For Thanksgiving, Island Harvest is hosting the Turkey & Trimmings Collection Campaign through Dec. 30. To donate a fresh turkey, non-perishables or a grocery store gift card, visit any QuickChek or Panera Bread. Island Harvest will also be hosting the 14th Annual Bethpage Turkey Drive on Nov. 18 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Bethpage Main Office, 899 S. Oyster Bay Rd. in Bethpage. Donations of frozen turkeys and non-perishables are welcome.
Long Island Cares has extended its “Adopt-a-Family” program to Nov. 18, where you can prepare an American Traditional, Central and South American, Caribbean Islander or Kosher Thanksgiving meal basket. Visit www.licares.org/events/adopt_a_family/ if interested.
Helping The Homeless:
From Nov. 18 to Dec. 21, the Syosset Public Library will be hosting a coat drive arranged in partnership by Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker and Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.
“If you have coats you’d like to donate, please bring them in and let your families and friends know about it,” Syosset Public Library Director Sharon Long said. “We love to partner with the community… We have our community engagement librarians that really do reach out into the community and find these partnerships. It’s been a nice way to do outreach.”
This is not the Syosset Public Library’s first time partnering with Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. A “Fill The Lunchbox” drive was held in October to help school children.
“[The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless] has been a great partnership that we’ve definitely strengthened and we continue to do things with them,” Long said.
Greta Guarton, the executive director of Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, said that while it’s always a dangerous situation to be homeless or unsheltered, winter is an especially dangerous time for people living in shelters or on the street.
“Even for many individuals and families living in shelters, they’re not able to stay in the shelters all day,” Guarton said. “They very often have to be outside or out of the shelter… It’s never a good time to be homeless, but winter is surely the most dangerous time.”
The number of homeless people in Nassau and Suffolk had been going down prior to the pandemic, Guarton said. During the pandemic, the numbers continued to go down because of the eviction moratorium. But since the moratorium has been lifted, the numbers of homeless people living in shelters or on the street are increasing. The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless works to end homelessness in Nassau and Suffolk by helping individuals and families get out of homelessness and into permanent and stable housing, and by helping prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
“The number one reason for homelessness across the board is a lack of affordable housing,” Guarton said. “I think there’s a lot of stigma around homelessness and a lot of misunderstanding of who becomes homeless and why, and as a result there’s a lot of opposition to the development of affordable housing.”
Visit www.lihomeless.org to learn more about Long Island Coalition for the Homeless and to find out how to help.

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