Local organizations provide for the community
It’s a time of year that is about receiving, whether it’s receiving a delicious dinner on Thanksgiving with family, or that meaningful gift from a loved one.
But for many, it’s also about giving. Amid all the holiday cheer and excitement that comes with the holidays, people feel extra generous. They often showcase their generosity by providing a waiter with a nice tip, donating to a toy drive, dropping off some food at a local pantry or providing a nice coat to keep someone warm during the winter.
According to Charity Navigator, charities receive an average of 41 percent of their contributions in the last few weeks of the year, making these weeks crucial in hitting year-end goals. In fact, Dec. 31 brings 20 percent of charities online year-end revenue.
On a local level, many local pantries and non-profits have initiatives to make sure that no person goes without a warm and delicious Thanksgiving meal or a special gift this holiday season.
The Bethpage Turkey Drive to benefit the Island Harvest Food Bank will take place on Friday, November 17, 2023, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s headquarters, 899 South Oyster Bay.
“This year marks the 15th anniversary of Long Island’s largest one-day food drive which, to date, has donated more than 45,000 turkeys and over 200,000 pounds of food over 15 years to Island Harvest which helps supply Thanksgiving holiday meals to families in our community,” a press release from Island Harvest stated. “Long Islanders are asked to donate frozen turkeys, non-perishable food items, or cash donations. Bethpage’s drive through donation lanes will allow residents to remain in their cars while volunteers remove donations from the vehicles.”
Jericho Cares will be providing local families with Thanksgiving baskets that are assembled by partner organizations, including Island Harvest, which is providing the turkeys.
“We have an Amazon Wishlist for extras we’d like to provide that day, like tablecloths,” said Fran O’Connor, the president of Jericho Cares. “We actually had a Girl Scout troop that made us centerpieces to give out. And, we have volunteers come that day and help us give all the baskets to the families.”
“They are just so grateful and appreciative for everything we do,” O’Connor added. “They thank us so many times.”
O’Connor said a need for Thanksgiving baskets, a three-year-old initiative, has increased.
“We had to close our sign-up,” O’Connor said.
In general, O’Connor said, requests have gone up for care packages. Inflation of groceries is part of the reason why families need more assistance. Jericho Cares will also be working with families to create a wish list this holiday season.
“The families sign up for gifts they would like for their children,” O’Connor said. “And then we have donors adopt a family.”
Long Island Cares is providing generous Long Islanders an opportunity to adopt a family this Thanksgiving. The initiative runs through Nov. 15. Items needed include cans of vegetables and fruit, a box of stuffing, a box of mashed potato mix, two cans of gravy, a can of cranberry sauce, a can of yams, a can of corn muffin mix, one dessert and a frozen turkey (which is optional.)
The 2023 Toys for Tots Campaign for Long Island has also begun, with a drop-off location at Anton Media Group, 132 E 2nd St., Mineola. And through Jan. 12, 2024, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, which is based in Amityville, is collecting non-perishable food, bags, toiletries, warm weather clothing, outdoor items (such as tents, tarps and sleeping bags) and $5 to $10 gift cards to Dunkin’, McDonalds, 7/11 and other accessible places.
The Love Your Neighbor Project, based in Sea Cliff, plans to keep the generosity going through February.
“What we do is we help organizations and people in the community who are already in the space of the holidays, we just support them monetarily and help get the word out,” said Jaime Teich, the “chief neighbor” of the Love Your Neighbor Project. “February is the month of kindness, and so we do a wish list, we’ve actually partnered with North Shore High School’s Interact Club to help this year… We fulfill the wish list of people whose families are impacted financially.”
For example, the Love Your Neighbor Project is supporting Glen Head real estate agent Celeste Gullo, who is collecting food, diapers and cash to support families this Thanksgiving. The drop-off location is at her office, 60 Glen Head Road.
“We provided her money to help in that effort,” Teich said. “We will do the same for any of the local organizations who do a Thanksgiving drive or a holiday drive to support families. We don’t want to compete in the space and we have so many incredible organizations in the area who are directly helping our community members in need.”
Other initiatives from the Love Your Neighbor Project include the Connect to Spooky Goodness drive, which collected Halloween costumes for local children, and the Candy Drive for the Troops, which allowed locals to drop off their extra Halloween candy.