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Food Drive

Port Jefferson Village Center. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Take a bite out of hunger

The Port Jefferson Conservancy is currently hosting a food drive at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson through the month of March. Food pantries are in short supply after the holiday season and need support. If you’re coming to the PJVC to skate, view the latest art gallery exhibit or to visit Harborfront Park, please bring a canned food or non-perishable item to benefit local families. The Center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information, please call 631-802-2160.

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Theatre Three Food Drive

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson kicks off the new year with a Theatre Three Cares food and personal care items drive to benefit the Open Cupboard food pantry at Infant Jesus Church on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Food items needed include Mac & cheese, canned pasta, peanut butter, jelly, coffee, sugar, flour, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, cooking oil, oatmeal, cereal, black and red beans, boxed milk, juice, canned fruit, healthy snacks, fresh chicken and ground beef and hot dogs.

Personal care items needed include shampoo, conditioner, soap, baby shampoo, baby wipes, deoderant, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

Donations will be collected in the back of the theater on the south side of the building. They are also accepting donations of grocery store gift cards and cash to purchase whatever else is needed. If you prefer, you can remain in your vehicle for a contact-free drop off. For more information, call Brian at 631-938-6464.

Volunteers from Theatre Three gathered food and other assorted items for the Open Cupboard Food Pantry out of the Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson on Dec. 12. by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

It might be the spirit of giving, or perhaps the lingering essense of Scrooge’s final transformation, but Theatre Three’s latest food drive of the year may have been their biggest one yet.

Even with Theatre Three having been effectively shut down because of COVID, its board members, staff and volunteers have continued to work to better the community. The group gathered food and other assorted items for the Open Cupboard Food Pantry out of the Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson Dec. 12. Their efforts stuffed the theater van plus a Toyota 4Runner with food a total of four times in just a few short hours. Well over 100 cars showed up, despite the rain, to offer the theater what they could.

For the holiday season, the group also hosted a toy drive, in which families from all over gave some pretty significant items.

“The toys, they were good quality toys — Star Wars, LEGOs, good stuff,” said Brian Hoerger, a board member and facilities manager for Theatre Three. Hoerger helped start the string of food drives this year after the beginning of the pandemic, when he and other community members donated 15 iPads to local hospitals. Those devices were desperately needed at the pandemic’s height, when patients needed them to communicate with family members no longer allowed inside hospital rooms. 

Though this is the sixth food drive held through Theatre Three, this latest effort ended the year with a bang.

“There was a lot of stuff today — we’re very happy,” said Theatre Three’s Executive Director Jeffrey Sanzel. “This was one of our most successful drives since the first one.”

The drive also gained over $900 in cash donations plus nearly $600 worth of gift cards. The day’s efforts were so successful that Hoerger held a second drive the following day for all the persons who could not come out on Saturday. The Theatre Three facility manager used some of the cash funds to purchase additional food for Open Cupboard.

Updated: The group will host another food drive on Saturday, January 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Theatre Three. For more information, call 631-938-6464.

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Boy Scout Troop 125 (Commack) with the collected 1,207.2 pounds of food for the Commack United Methodist Church’s food pantry.

By Troop 125 Historian, Wyatt Bode

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful … Boy Scouts from Troop 125 were out in force on Sunday, November 8 participating in a call to service for a Thanksgiving time food drive. Canned and boxed goods were donated by community members, as the scouts requested donations from shoppers at Commack’s ShopRite (Crooked Hill Rd).  An impressive 1,207.2 pounds were collected that day.

Scouts of Boy Scout Troop 125(Commack) during the food collection at Shoprite in Commack

The food variety included staples such as soup, tuna, assorted canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, rice, olive oil, sauces and cereals. The food collected helped restock the shelves for the Commack United Methodist Church’s pantry. Much thanks go to all the members of the community who helped in this effort and participated in donating all the food.

Boy Scout Troop 125 meets every Tuesday from 7:30-9:00pm at the Commack United Methodist Church (486 Town Line Road, Commack) and is open to boys ages 11 through 18 residing in Commack, Dix Hills, East Northport, Kings Park, Smithtown and their surrounding communities. Due to Covid, the meetings are currently being conducted remotely until the weather warms up, but the Troop is planning bi-weekly outdoor activities which lend themselves to social distancing.

In the photo: Rebecca Tripoli (center front) and Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci (center back) with Rebecca’s mother (Sara), father (Frank), grandparents, aunt, uncle and two cousins. Photo from Town of Huntington

Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci honored Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, on Monday, December 21, for raising $140 in donations to purchase supplies for families in local shelters.

 “Rebecca represents the best of the greater Huntington community. Not only did she selflessly think of others during the holiday season, which can be a tough time for many, especially those in need, but she did something about it and made an impact at our shelters and in the hearts of many across our community,” said Sup. Lupinacci as he presented a proclamation from the Huntington Town Board to Rebecca outside her home on Monday evening.

9-year-old Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, took up a collection to buy supplies for local shelters, raising $140. She researched local shelters’ websites, saw what they needed, made a list and went shopping.

“I felt grateful that my life was great, and I thought of the homeless people that had nothing. So I bought groceries to give them something,” said Rebecca, who purchased “fruit cups, ramen noodles, black beans, candy canes, pasta, canned vegetables, chicken soup, water and juice boxes, diapers, baby lotion, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream,” all of which was donated to Family Service League.

Rebecca’s mother Sara added that Rebecca knew candy canes weren’t on the list but she wanted to do something to make the children smile around Christmas, “Rebecca’s father and I really are proud that she came up with the idea to help people less fortunate than her. We talk about this together a lot, that there are people right here in our community and in her school that don’t have enough food to eat, or even a place to live. She has a big heart and also a lot of ambition, and decided to do something about it. We were really surprised and honored that Mr. Lupinacci came to our home and recognized her for her work. It was an exciting day for us all!”

John Guido, of Sound Beach, stands in front of the bench that honors his mother, Jane Guido. He. along with his family, started a nonprofit foundation to continue her legacy of giving back. Photo by Kyle Barr

For years, if one wanted to talk to somebody in Sound Beach about donating or giving, that person was Jane Guido.

She was a volunteer and later the outreach director for St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach’s food pantry for well over 30 years, and even while she worked as an administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory, she was in charge of its food drives. It was something her children couldn’t help but notice, and they were soon sucked into that world of giving back. She would do that work even as she struggled with diabetes. 

“What I used to do is I used to always help her out over there, it was a volunteer thing for everybody,” said John Guido, Jane’s son, who said in later years she was working at that place 80 or so hours a week. Some of her work went beyond food, even helping to provide oil to heat a person’s home in the winter. John, a senior manager at a real estate firm, said together with his friends and compatriots, he would help gather food or donations for whatever his mother’s outreach center needed at any one moment. 

After being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2017, Jane passed in August 2018 at the age of 74. In all those years, she never stopped giving. Her name now adorns the outside of the outreach center of the church she worked from, as well as a bench just outside its doors.

“She did that until the day she died,” John said. “The number of families she helped was huge.”

It was after her death that John and other members of her family decided they needed to do something to honor that legacy. That would come in the form of a nonprofit foundation bearing his mother’s name.

“The purpose of it was to help memorialize my mom, but it was also to keep her mission, keep her drive going,” he said. “Knowing that eventually, people are going to forget who Jane Guido is, but her drive and her mission will always be out there.”

The family organized and created a nonprofit in 2018, the Jane Guido Foundation and has worked since to provide people with food and other necessities, often working with established organizations such as the Port Jefferson Lions Club, who during this Thanksgiving season the Jane Guido Foundation donated 100 turkeys for the club’s annual drive. The foundation also donated toys and presents to 20 families through the Lions Club’s Christmas Magic program. It has also worked with Lighthouse Mission, which operates mobile food pantries all over Suffolk County, including in Port Jefferson Station and Rocky Point. Overall, John Guido said they touch about 70 families and a dozen different organizations through their efforts, and they are looking to grow those numbers.

The organization is looking for additional donations to help them grow its outreach efforts. People can offer support using the foundation’s website at janeguidofoundation.org or by contacting them at 631-258-8787 or [email protected] John Guido said they also plan to host several events in 2021, one for spring, summer and fall. A calendar of events should be available on the website starting in the new year.

Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli is pictured with Reverend Kimberly Gambino of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station. Photo from Town of Huntington

The holidays are rapidly approaching. Unfortunately, this holiday season will be quite different for many people. Many families in our community are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no better time than the present to reach out and help our neighbors. That is why the Huntington Highway Department recently partnered with the Helping Hand Rescue Mission of Huntington Station this year for our “Highway Cares – Third Annual Food Drive”.

“As many food banks and local charities try to keep up with the overwhelming demand for food and supplies in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is especially important to donate whatever we can to help those in need in our community,” stated Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli.  “I’m so proud of the men and women in the Highway Department for giving their all in this year’s food drive. They have collected, itemized and packaged ten full boxes of food and delivered all to the Helping Hand Rescue Mission on Monday, November 16th, 2020,” added Mr. Orelli.

For those interested in helping to ‘Give the Gift of a Meal’ this holiday season, please contact Reverend Kimberly Gambino of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission at: 631-351-6996 or via email to: [email protected]

Suggested donations are canned tuna, chicken, beans, soups & stews, chili, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, stuffing mix, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, oatmeal, nuts and trail mix. Monetary contributions can be sent to the Helping Hand Rescue Mission, 225 Broadway in Huntington Station, NY 11746.

Members of the Miller Place Fire Department and other community volunteers successfully packed a department bus full of food and other supplies for the St. Louis de Montfort church’s food pantry. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though students now aren’t meant to sit too close on the bus, the Miller Place Fire Department, for the 10th year in a row, is using every inch of space in a bus that bears its own logo.

Members of the Miller Place Fire Department and other community volunteers successfully packed a department bus full of food and other supplies for the St. Louis de Montfort church’s food pantry. Photo by Kyle Barr

MPFD’s 10th annual Stuff-a-Bus event managed to fill every seat in their red-and-white bus to the brim with food and other essential items donated by the community. All food was delivered to the St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach for its food pantry.

Items were donated by fire department members and the surrounding community at the annual Stuff-a-Bus event held at the Miller Place Stop & Shop Nov. 20, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the donated items, Miller Place EMS Capt. Rob Chmiel, who headed the event, said they received nearly $1,000 in cash and gift card donations. The cash was used to purchase items the department was short of, and the gift cards were given directly to the food pantry staff, so they could use them to address their needs in the future.

Though normally the fire department holds its donation drive over two days, on the night of this year’s event, Chmiel said that they were receiving an incredible amount of donations, more than they usually do. They even received a car full of groceries by a volunteer at 4 p.m. By around 5:30 p.m., just two hours into the six-hour event, they had filled half the bus through several dozen residents donating a few boxes, cartons or jars at a time. By the end that same bus was packed to the seams. 

“We set out to make this the biggest year we possibly could, given the pandemic and everybody being stuck at home for most of the year,” Chmiel said. “We broke every record we possibly could.”

Elaine Bender, outreach director for St. Louis de Montfort Church, said the department did a “fabulous job” as they got way more than initially expected. The gift cards are also a big help as those are needed to help needy people purchase big ticket Thanksgiving items like turkeys.

The late afternoon-evening event was a large-scale operation, with a score of department volunteers bringing food to the bus and loading it up as music rang out over the crowded lot on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Other fire department volunteers stood by the doors to the supermarket asking local residents for donations.

“There’s a lot of hungry people right now,” volunteer Lori Aliano said. 

Since the pandemic’s start, Bender said the church has seen an increase in the overall number of clients they help. She added she expects there could be an increase in need should there be another statewide shutdown in the near future.

Chmiel thanked Marchand’s School of Dance for their yearly donations and Stop & Shop of Miller Place for allowing them to host the drive.

St. Louis de Montfort Church also hosts a drive for Christmas and will be accepting gift cards from any shop that sells toys supplies and/or clothing. Donations can be dropped off at the church located at 75 New York Ave. in Sound Beach.

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A local nonprofit that supports the needy on Long Island is anticipating record breaking need come Thanksgiving time.

Lighthouse Mission, a mobile food pantry that services several communities across Long Island, including on weekends in Rocky Point, Centereach and Port Jefferson Station, has come out strong during the pandemic, seeing a huge increase in the number of people seeking aid. Their numbers spiked from around 22 to 2,400 people a week to over 3,000 individuals once COVID-19 hit.

Pastor Jim Ryan, the president of Lighthouse Mission, said this Thanksgiving they could see somewhere around 10,000 Suffolk families coming to them for their annual Thanksgiving food distribution where the donate an entire holiday meal for those unable to purchase one.

“Some of them are just regular people living paycheck to paycheck,” Ryan said.

The nonprofit has seen the number of people looking for help rise while the number of donations go down, and Ryan said they are in need of food, clothing and monetary donations before the large November blitz. Specifically, they are looking for any Thanksgiving food one might find around the family table.

“COVID has been blasting people this year,” Ryan said. “As we start getting closer to the holidays, the concerns for this year is if we can meet need for Thanksgiving.”

The pastor said they have been practicing social distancing at each of their outreach locations, such that it has actually meant a surprisingly better organized day. Volunteers stand masked and gloved behind the food. People are invited forward to select what they need while people are kept separate. Anybody who shows up without a mask is offered one for free.

For more information or on how to donate, visit www.lighthousemission.com.

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson hosts a food and person care items drive to benefit the pantry at Infant Jesus Church on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Food items needed include mac & cheese, canned pasta (Chef Boyardee, etc.), coffee, sugar, flour, pancake mix, oatmeal, cereal, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, cooking oil, boxed milk, juice, canned fruit, healthy snacks, fresh chicken, fresh ground beef and hot dogs.

Personal care items needed include shampoo, baby shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby wipes, and diapers (size 6 and newborn).

Grocery gift cards and cash will also be accepted. Donations will be collected in the back of the theater on the south side of the building. Rain date is Sept. 27. For more information, visit www.theatrethree.com.