Tags Posts tagged with "Charity"


Northport Boy Scout Troop 410 held event to raise funds for the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry

By Karen Forman

Hundreds gathered March 18 to brave the icy cold waters off Steers Beach for the 9th annual Polar Bear Swim. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, this year’s polar plunge had to be rescheduled for the day after St. Patrick’s Day; the water was a sheet of ice back in January.

The event is run by Northport Boy Scout Troop 410, who donate all the money raised from this event and the pancake breakfast held earlier in the month to the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry in Northport. 

Last year, the Boy Scouts raised more than $5,000 for the food pantry, and they are hoping to top that this year. The final total of participants’ donations was not available as of Monday morning.  Those still interested in donating can visit http://troop410swim.com. 

This post was updated at 3:43 p.m March 19. 


Dozens of people entered Napper Tandy’s Pub in Smithtown to boldly go bald at a St. Baldrick’s Day event March 10. The event raised more than $50,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds childhood cancer research.

The top fundraising team was the fourth-grade boys Smithtown Bulls lacrosse team, coached by Rob Trites, which collected more than $12,000 for the charity.

“This is our third year doing it as a team,” Trites said. “It’s a great event to get the kids together at — a nonsporting event so they can bond and give back, shave their heads in solidarity with children fighting disease.”

Smithtown Town councilman Tom Lohmann (R) and Robert Murphy (R), the town’s superintendent of highways, shaved their heads this year. Lohmann and Murphy were part of a team that raised more than $11,000 in memory of Matthew Gonzalez, who died May 21, 2009 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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Event to be held March 14 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Nesconset branch

Smithtown Library Director Robert Lusak. File photo from Dave Berner

By Sara-Megan Walsh

The director of The Smithtown Library is preparing to boldly go bald to show his support for pediatric cancer research.

The Nesconset branch will be hosting a St. Baldrick’s Day event March 15, from  11 a.m. to noon. Director Rob Lusak will shave his head to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds children’s cancer research.

Every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer worldwide, and in the United States one in five kids diagnosed will not survive, according to the foundation.

All members of the community are welcome and encouraged to attend this event and donate to the cause. Donations can be made on the day of the event by cash or check. Light refreshments will be provided

The Nesconset branch of The Smithtown Library is located at 148 Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset. For more information on the event, call 631-360-2480 ext. 235.

Those who cannot attend the event but would like to make a donation, can contact Julie DeLaney at 631-360-2480 ext. 230.

More than 100 attendees shave their heads to raise funds for pediatric cancer


Dozens of people lined up to boldly go bald at the Northport-East Northport school district’s St. Baldrick’s Day event March 9. The event raised more than $63,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds childhood cancer research.

Among the top teams were the East Northport Middle School Bald Tigers, led by teacher John Braun, raising more than $22,000. The team dedicated this year’s shave in memory of Caleb Paquet. Paquet, 19, died in August 2017 after a battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Braun grew a green mohawk for the occasion while marking the side of his head with “Caleb’s Army.” The Bellerose Fuzzballs, of Bellerose Elementary School, also raised more than $10,000 for the cause.


Three-day free medical clinic to treat more than 1,000 residents in need

A doctor speaks with patients at the 2017 free medical clinic in Haiti. Photo from Ginette Rows.

It’s easy to be critical of the severe problems Haiti faces, but a group of Huntington residents are taking on the challenge of finding a solution to its health care problems.

Two Huntington residents have organized a group to fly to Haiti Feb. 16 to launch their second free mobile medical clinic to provide basic medical services to those in desperate need.

“Last year was the first time we did a clinic,” Pastor Georges Franck said. “It was so successful that we decided to do it again last year.”

Franck, leader of Huntington Station’s Church of God, is working in partnership with Yam Community Resource Inc., a Huntington Station-based nonprofit that offers quality-of-life services for the Haitian community, to assemble a team of medical professionals to run a three-day medical clinic in Aquin, a city on the southern coast of Haiti.

“We expected we will have maybe 100 people a day, and we ended up at least 300 a day,” said Ginette Rows, president of Yam Community Resource. “By the time we finished, we saw 1,079 people. This year, I expect more.”

Huntington resident Ginette Rows, far right, and Pastor Georges Franck, far leg, with volunteers at the 2017 medical clinic in Haiti. Photo from Ginette Rows.

Since Hurricane Matthew devastated the island in October 2016, Rows said it has been a struggle to rebuild as the hurricane was the first of a chain of natural disasters that has led to high unemployment rates. Word of the medical clinic is spread primarily via word of mouth, according to Rows. Locals from the surrounding villages will travel long distances — often walking for hours — in hopes of being seen by a physician.

“The people we are seeing do not have the financial means to pay for medical care,” she said. “If you have money, the priority is feeding the family, shelter and paying for school.”

Donations are collected from the approximately 120 members of the Huntington parish to purchase basic medical supplies, such as scales, and over-the-counter medication, according to its pastor. Franck said medications like Advil, which may cost $6 or $8 in the U.S., may wind up costing $12 to $13 in Haiti due to increased costs of shipping and accessibility. Each volunteer pays his or her own travel costs and expenses.

The hundreds who line up to visit the clinic each day are screened by a team of nurses, Rows said, who is a nurse herself. The nurses take their blood pressure, pulse, medical history and check blood sugar to screen for diabetes. Among the most common issues are malnutrition, maternal care, dental issues and high blood pressure.

“There are 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds that are severely underweight,” Rows said. “Last year we weren’t prepared to weigh them, so we’ve shipped down our own scales, so we can see how big of an issue it is.”

Her goal, as a Haitian immigrant whose father was among the first to come to Huntington in the 1960s, is to collect organized data on the specific medical issues treated to recruit specialists to join the team at future clinics to improve Haitians’ quality of life. She hopes to eventually build a permanent partnership with local hospitals and medical organizations to improve the standards of preventative health care for residents.

“I consider myself a member of the Haitian family,” Rows said. “Regardless of religion, I am there to assist them in some way.”

To learn more about Yam Community Resource, visit its website at www.yamcommunity.com.

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Owner expects to raise up to $7,000 a month for two Long Island hospitals

A customer paying 5 cents to purchase a plastic bag from IGA Fort Salonga. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A Fort Salonga business owner has found a way to put a positive spin on one of Suffolk’s newest mandated fees for the Huntington community.

Charlie Reichert, owner of IGA Fort Salonga Market, announced Jan. 25 that he will be donating all proceeds from the county’s new 5-cent fee for plastic bags to benefit Huntington Hospital and Eastern Long
Island Hospital in Greenport. He is calling for other business owners to do the same.

“It came to me when people were really complaining about the plastic bag, ‘Why are you charging a nickel? Why are you getting the money?’” Reichert said. “That gave me the idea, why don’t we give the money to charity.”

The new 5-cent fee, approved by the Suffolk County Legislature in September 2016, applies to the single-use plastic or paper bags provided by cashiers at the end of a sale and used to carry goods from the store.

Reichert who owns five IGA supermarkets in Bayville, Fort Salonga, Greenport, East Northport and Southold, said he’s already seen a 50 percent decrease in consumer use of single-use plastic bags since Jan. 1.

“It’s amazing how people are walking in with the reusable bags again,” the supermarket owner said. He noted his stores gave away 3,000 reusable bags in January.

Reichert said he expects the nickel surcharge to generate approximately $6,000 to $7,000 a month for charity.

Dr. Gerard Brogan, executive director of Huntington Hospital, said the funds will be used to help toward building and renovating the hospital’s facilities — most immediately, the hospital’s maternity ward.

“It’s kind of a double privilege for me as a doctor who works at Huntington Hospital,” said county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), who sponsored the initial legislation. “Huntington Hospital is a hospital I’ve called home, where I’ve worked for 20 years. Their mission is to improve the community. It’s a perfect match.”

Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he has reached out to other stores in his district to discuss the initiative. Trotta said he’s gotten ShopRite locations in Hauppauge and Patchogue to support the cause, donating proceeds of the fee to Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, specifically to benefit local veterans in need. He’s currently in conversations with several big-box retailers including Walmart, Target and CVS.

“I hope it spreads like wildfire,” Trotta  said. “I think this has the potential to put millions of dollars in local Suffolk County charities.”

When asked if this charitable initiative would work well with the law’s original intent of reducing plastic waste in our environment, both Trotta and Spencer called the situation a “win-win.”

“If this fails, it means people aren’t purchasing plastic bags, which is a win,” Spencer said. “If there is a lot of money and it’s going to charity, it’s also a win.”

Editor’s note:  This post was undated 

Runners braved the cold to raise funds for pediatric cancer research at Maggie's Mile Jan. 1. Photo by Karen Forman

By Karen Forman

The bitter cold weather didn’t stop approximately 500 courageous souls who braved the -2 “feels like” temperatures to run Maggie’s Mile at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park on New Year’s Day.

Kieran Gibbons, a member of Northport Running Club, stood alone at the starting line while hundreds of runners huddled indoors at the Sunken Meadow Golf Course Clubhouse waiting for the race to begin.

“I am a longtime friend of Maggie’s family,” Gibbons said, “and this is a healthy way to start the New Year and raise money for pediatric cancer research.”

Students of South Huntington teacher Steve Schmidt bundled up to attend Maggie’s Mile Jan. 1. Photo by Karen Forman.

According to Steve Schmidt, “The event raised nearly $10,000 for the nonprofit Maggie’s Mission,” which will donate the funds toward research of malignant rhabdoid tumors at Memorial Sloan Kettering in memory of his daughter, Maggie.

Greenlawn teen Maggie Schmidt was only 16 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, malignant rhabdoid tumors, in October 2016. She died after a nine-month battle June 1, 2017. Many who took part in Monday’s event were members of the Northport Running Club, of which Steve Schmidt and other family and friends are members.

“After everything Steven and Donna and the family went through, we wanted to come together as a community to support them,” said Erica Fraiberg, a member of the running club.

Fraiberg finished second in the women’s division with a time under 6 minutes. The top two finishers were Alex Eletto, 20, of Stony Brook, for the men’s division who finished the mile-long course in 4:48 and Amanda Scanlon, 38, of Northport, who finished in less than 6 minutes.

Maggie’s father, a third-grade teacher at Maplewood Elementary School in South Huntington, ran the race dressed as Father Time with support from his students. Eight-year-olds  Priscilla Kenny and Michael
Ferdinando are in Schmidt’s class this year and came to run Maggie’s Mile, along with Michael’s older brother Joe, age 10.

Steve Schmidt stands with Baby New Year at Maggie’s Mile on New Year’s Day. Photo by Karen Forman.

“We love our teacher,” Michael said. “We wanted to do this. We made our shirts for the race. We have to run for Maggie’s Mission.”

Schmidt’s son, also named Steve, 20, proudly displayed a freshly inked tattoo on his arm for his late sister. He recalled how he and his dad were hiking out West in August 2016 when they got a call that Maggie was in the emergency room at Huntington Hospital.

“Maggie had internal bleeding,” he said. “They thought she had a burst cyst and that she would be fine.”

The late Greenlawn teen was still bleeding after surgery and had to be transferred to Cohen’s Children’s Hospital, according to her brother, where she then underwent a second surgery within three days and multiple blood transfusions.

For more than two months, the Schmidt family ushered their daughter back and forth to the ER and to various doctors, without a firm diagnosis of what was wrong. It wasn’t until October 2016 when Maggie underwent a third emergency surgery during which doctors found the multiple tumors in her abdomen.

“We need to raise money to fund more research,” the brother said. “We have almost no information about this disease. It’s so rare, that there aren’t enough cases.”

To learn more about Maggie’s Mission, visit the nonprofit organization’s website at www.maggiesmission.org.

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Hundreds of residents showed off their athleticism and generosity this past weekend in Smithtown during the 12th annual 5K Running of the Bull, which benefits local children in need.

On the grounds of the New York Avenue Smithtown Central School District administrative building, spectators rang mini cowbells and giant speakers played the “Rocky” theme song as more than 200 runners raced down a 3.1-mile course along Forestwood Park to the finish line during this year’s fundraiser. The competitors ranged in age from 11 to 82. Each finisher was met at the end of the race with cheers from family and friends, food from local eateries and raffle drawings.

Commack resident Stephen Abruzzo, 47, who came in first with a run time of 18 minutes 28 seconds, has been running in the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce event since it began in 2006.

“It’s all about giving back to the local charity,” Abruzzo said. “This is a great cause and this race is a great reflection of the Smithtown community.”

Dominick LoGiudice came from Patchogue to take part in the event for the first time.

“I heard it’s a well-run event and the charity angle is unbelievable,” he said. “We all have to do our part.”

All proceeds from the 5K Running of the Bull go to Angela’s House, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit with locations in East Moriches, Smithtown and Stony Brook that assists families caring for children with special health care needs. The funds primarily cover the costs of what insurance companies won’t, like sending a child to a specialty camp or providing expensive mobility equipment such as adaptive strollers.

The race helps the 25-year organization continue to provide special needs families the ‘yes’ after everybody else says ‘no,’ according to founder and executive director, Bob Policastro, who also competed.

“When a parent sees an event like this advertised, it’s like, ‘Wow, my town is supporting an agency that’s supporting us,’” Policastro said. “A lot of them feel very alone as their life can be restricted. So when they know a community is rallying around them, it’s like a boost that they need and deserve.”

When Mark Mancini of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce first joined the group in 2005, he said he pitched the idea of a 5K run for a charity, which he said was met with lukewarm responses from his fellow board members.

“It was a little shocking to me,” he said. “But that all changed after the first Running of the Bull. The chamber after that wanted to get charities for everything. One event basically kick-started others.”

Mancini said after he learned about Angela’s House and Policastro — who started the organization after his own daughter died from medical complications in 1990 — he was determined to make it the focus of the run. The race has also benefited other charities over the years, such as The Courtney Sipes Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit founded in memory of a Smithtown student struck and killed by a car on Main Street in 2009.

“This is so important,” Mancini said. “It’s such a positive event and just the thing that we need.”

Barbara Franco, executive director of the chamber, agreed.

“It’s a fabulous day for the community, for families, for children, for pets,” Franco said with a laugh and pointed out a bulldog dressed in an event T-shirt. “If mom is running, dad and the kids cheer her on. If dad’s running, the whole family’s behind him.”

Chamber president, Robert Cartelli, who led the 1K fun run for young children and their parents before the main race, said this is among his favorite events in Smithtown.

“I love it,” Cartelli said. “I look at this community as a pulse of Long Island and I’m very happy to be part of this family event. It’s the best.”

A check with funds raised by the event will be presented to Angela’s House during the chamber’s holiday party in December.

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Port Jeff business owner Joey Zangrillo during a July trip to a Kenya orphanage he hopes to help expand. Photo from Joey Zangrillo

By Alex Petroski 

Main Street in Port Jefferson and Nairobi County in Kenya are separated by 7,300 miles, but a chance meeting between a local business owner and a Kenyan lawyer has made a world of difference for needy children in the impoverished nation.

In 2016, Annette Kawira, 28, moved with her then-fiancé from Kenya to Port Jeff. One night she and her now-husband, who relocated to begin working at Stony Brook University, found themselves in Port Jeff looking for a place to eat and ended up dining at the Greek restaurant Z Pita. Owner Joey Zangrillo struck up a conversation with Kawira, who had been a practicing lawyer in Kenya. She told him about her home and about a charitable effort in which she had previously been involved. Kawira said she used to donate 10 percent of her monthly salary to a cause being undertaken by a pastor in a suburb of Nairobi, whose mission was to help orphaned and forgotten children living on the streets without proper care.

A well that was established in large part through a fundraiser at Zangrillo’s restaurant. Photo from Joey Zangrillo

According to Kawira, Pastor Hika Kamau and his wife Judy realized after several church services that when tea and bread were shared with members of the congregation, several children would appear to eat and then disappear. Kawira said Kamau was curious about what was going on with the approximately dozen children. So after one service he told the children he would gladly feed them lunch; but in exchange he asked them to introduce him to their parents. It then occurred to him many were orphans, and others had families that were either unable or unwilling to care for their children.

“He just wondered, ‘Where do these kids go during the week?’” Kawira said.

This sparked Kamau’s motivation.

In 2009, the pastor set up what would eventually evolve into the Bethsaida Orphanage, headed by the Bethsaida Community Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping needy children in the area, with the help of the Bethsaida Women’s Empowerment Group. The school, which is also home for many of the children, originated as a small dwelling built out of mud and soil on the grounds of the church for the original group of children the pastor met after services. Through word of mouth, the number of children served by the school has ballooned to more than 100, with 72 kids from 1 year old to 17 years old living permanently on the site, which has grown through the exchange of the pastor’s ancestrally inherited land.

Kawira said she was happy to donate part of her salary to help the cause.

“Every time I would give it to them, I realized what I was giving really wasn’t making a difference, because they would probably just eat, buy a few utilities — that doesn’t change the situation that they were in,” she said while sitting at a table inside Z Pita. “My interest with the kids was to just make sure whatever we do, it’s sustainable. I don’t think you can beg forever … what can we do that will empower these kids to empower themselves?”

When Kawira found herself at Zangrillo’s restaurant last year, they struck up a conversation, and the restaurant owner told her about his own charitable effort on which he had just embarked. Zangrillo founded a company called Race Has No Place, an apparel brand with a mission of breaking down barriers between people of different races. Purchasers of the apparel, upon check out, are instructed to select a charity of their choice toward which to direct 10 percent of their purchase. Zangrillo and Kawira soon realized their missions intersected and decided to team up.

Kawira explained the story behind the pastor’s mission in Kenya, and by July of this year, after a fundraiser at Z Pita, the Port Jeff business owner was on a 25-hour excursion to see the desperate area for himself.

“I’m telling you — what good food can do,” Kawira said, laughing about the lucky circumstances that led to the charitable partnership. “Good food brings people together.”

Port Jeff business owner Joey Zangrillo during a July trip to a Kenya orphanage he hopes to help expand. Photo from Joey Zangrillo

After the first fundraiser and additional money accumulated by a donation container that sits on the front counter at the restaurant year-round, enough money has been raised to begin the construction of a well at the orphanage, which will provide much-needed clean water.

“I’m never going to forget them — I’m going to make this a lifelong mission, as long as I’m alive,” Zangrillo said, reflecting on his eight-day trip to East Africa.

Zangrillo and Kawira have enlisted the help of Maureen Nabwire, a native of Kenya, who serves as a project manager for their efforts and has plans to venture to Port Jeff to establish a game plan for 2018. Plans include figuring out how much money needs to be raised and how it will be done to make the facility everything it needs to be for as many needy Kenyan children as possible.

“Annette and Joey are the kindest and most beautiful souls, and I am so glad I get to work on this initiative with them,” Nabwire said in an email. “They have marshaled the Port Jefferson community into this great cause, and I am super proud of them. They have brought the plight and needs of Bethsaida community children home to a much greater audience and the response has been immensely positive. Annette and Joey represent the society we want to have where your neighbor’s trouble or suffering is your problem. From what they have done, the home down here in Kenya is going to take care of the children without trouble, and guarantee them basic needs and a good education.”

Kawira tried to sum up what the extra attention being paid to a needy group in her home country has meant so far, and what it will mean in the future.

“We’re dealing with kids who don’t have primary resources — water, clothing and shelter,” she said. “It would be hard to explain how dire the need is until you see it.”

To learn more about the cause, visit www.facebook.com/racehasnoplace. For more information about the Bethsaida Community Foundation or to get involved, visit www.besahemi.org.

Community members stand with the baskets of food donations raised for Tri CYA. Photo from A.J Carter

Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), a Huntington grocery store and many other local groups recently made it their mission to help stock the kitchen at a local children’s organization.

Tri Community and Youth Agency, a not-for-profit organization that offers educational, recreational, social, cultural, athletic, counseling and advocacy programs for the town’s youth spanning from South Huntington to Cold Spring Harbor, noticed an issue with food shortage among its young attendees.

Edwards said she was told that  80 children were receiving meals while attending Tri CYA programs during the week, but were pressed for food during the weekends when they were home. Edwards reached out to a network of organizations that responded quickly and were eager to help.

“This is an example of what we can do when we all work together on a common goal,” Edwards said in an event announcing the donations at the Stop & Shop on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington. “Thank you to Stop & Shop and all the service organizations in our community.”

Responding to a call to action from Edwards, a large roster of community-based organizations and the Huntington Stop & Shop store mobilized to gather food and donate it to help the 80 kids enrolled in the Tri CYA program.

“Our children and their families are most appreciative of Stop & Shop’s assistance,” said Debbie Rimler, (regional director) executive director of Tri CYA.  “I am very grateful that all these groups have banded together to address food insecurity over the weekends. This donation will make a huge difference in many households and for many youths. Thank you so much.”

The participating organizations said it was their pleasure to get involved.

“It is our privilege to lend assistance to those in the Huntington community who make sure that children are cared for,” said Cindy Carrasquilla, manager of public relations and community relations for Stop & Shop said in a statement. “Stop & Shop is pleased that our efforts can provide food and nourishment to youngsters in need.“

The grocery chain donated milk, cream cheese, butter, vegetables, fresh fruit and kid favorites such as hot dogs, soup, macaroni, ravioli, Lunchables, Pop-Tarts and juice.

Huntington is not alone in a need for more food to feed our residents.

According to Feeding America’s most recent hunger study, 39 percent of Long Islanders who receive emergency food are children under 18 years old. Feeding America is a nonprofit organization that works as a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks feeding more than 40 million people.

“Summer hunger is a serious issue here on Long Island,” said Robin Amato, chief development officer of Long Island Cares, Inc. “Moving forward we will be talking to the Tri CYA about utilizing our children’s breakfast food trucks to ensure that these children have nutritious weekend meals all year round.”

Other organizations and companies that donated food include American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244; the Boy Scouts of America, Suffolk County Girl Scouts, Huntington Community First Aid Squad, Huntington Public Library, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, YMCA of Huntington, NAACP, Huntington Station Business Improvement District, and more.