Tags Posts tagged with "Winter"

Winter

Rich Daly doing a live carving on day one at the Port Jefferson Ice Festival. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

The 5th annual Port Jefferson Ice Festival didn’t disappoint, yet again, with hundreds of people coming near and far to enjoy this winter wonderland. 

Spearheaded by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District and partnering with the, the festival gives visitors and residents a bunch of fun activities great for all ages. 

The common denominator each year is the fantastic ice sculptures created by Rich Daly — owner and ice sculptor with Ice Memories, based in Mastic Beach. Daly said he spends three weeks preparing for the two-day-long festival, creating 30 ice statues to distribute around Port Jefferson. From dogs outside Skinmed Spa to a cheeseburger outside Tommy’s, there is quite the variety. For this festival alone, Daly said he carved 225 blocks of ice (that’s 70,000 pounds) slated for the weekend.

The festival began Saturday, Jan. 27, and was supposed to go into the Sunday. However, a rainy forecast postponed the second day until this coming Sunday, Feb. 4. While disappointing for some, people who missed the first day can now have another chance to enjoy the festivities. Some of those festivities include admiring Daly’s sculptures around town, character appearances — Spider-Man and Barbie were spotted — and horse and buggy rides. 

But the biggest crowd draw is the three live ice sculpture experiences by Daly occurring throughout the day. 

Daly became the world’s fastest ice carver, according to Guinness World Records, back in 2013. 

“I carved 18,000 pounds of ice into 61 different carvings in two hours and 52 minutes surpassing the old record by over an hour and a half,” he said. “So now we’re 11 years in, and it’s still my record, thankfully.”

Last Saturday, Daly stood with a 300-pound block of ice in the Meadow Parking Lot behind PJ Lobster House with nearly 100 people and children cheering him on. He took his ice pick, carved out a rough design of a dove and then started up his chainsaw to carve out the bird. In under 30 minutes, the bird was ready and admirers could be photographed with the new creation.

This year’s Port Jefferson Ice Festival will have its grand finale on Sunday, Feb. 4, featuring all-new ice designs throughout the village along with Daly’s live carvings. Parking is free.

Pixabay photo

By Samantha Rutt

On Monday night, our communities experienced their first snowfall in an astonishing 716 days as a winter storm swept through the region, leaving a picturesque blanket of snow in its wake. The last significant snowfall in the area occurred on a winter day in 2022, making this recent event a long-awaited and nostalgic experience for residents.

The snowstorm, which arrived overnight, surprised many with its intensity and the amount of snow it deposited. Weather reports indicate that Suffolk County received approximately 3 inches of snow, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. The delicate white flakes clung to trees and rooftops, creating scenes reminiscent of a holiday postcard.

Local authorities were well prepared for the snowstorm, deploying salt trucks and snowplows to keep roads clear and safe for travel. Despite the challenges posed by the sudden onset of winter weather, no major disruptions were reported, and residents were able to navigate the snow-covered streets with caution. The most prominent concern locals are faced with lays within the morning commute as freezing temperatures and wet roads are prime ingredients for a dangerous trek. 

Meteorologists suggest that the unusual gap between snowfalls in Suffolk County could be attributed to a combination of climatic factors. The return of the snow, albeit a moderate amount, serves as a reminder of the region’s seasonal diversity and the unpredictable nature of weather patterns.

As the sun rises over Suffolk County, the pristine snowscape offers a serene and scenic view, marking the end of a lengthy snow drought for the community. 

Pixabay photo

By John L. Turner

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it; the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” — Andrew Wyeth

Not sure if planetary scientists can explain why, when the earth was forming, it became tilted about 23.5 degrees off a perfect perpendicular axis to its orbital plane around the Sun. However, they can offer an unequivocal statement of fact that this planetary quirk is the reason for the portfolio of seasons we enjoy. And now, as has been often true for more than four and one-half billion years, when the planetary axis that runs through the North Pole points away from the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere receives weaker, more obtuse rays of sunshine, resulting in the colder temperatures of winter. 

Today, as they have for millenia, countless number of plants and animals have responded in their own species-specific ways to survive this most challenging of seasons.

A discussion about the pervasive effects of winter on nature cannot happen without talking about another word that begins with the letter “w” and ends in an “r” — water. Water, or more particularly the fact that it becomes ice at 32 degrees, has had profound impacts in shaping the response of organisms to winter. As water becomes ice, it’s no longer available to plants, making winter, in effect, a five to six month long drought. The response of deciduous trees to no available water? To shed their leaves that are water loss structures and become dormant. How do evergreen or coniferous trees, which obviously keep their leaves, tolerate the winter’s loss of available water? Their small leaves with waxy coatings are highly effective at retarding water loss. They simply use little water in the winter.

How else does ice affect species? Ducks, geese and swans that depend upon open freshwater ponds and lakes to feed need to move in the event their ponds freeze over. Same with kingfishers and other fish-eating birds. This “freezing over” occurs because ice, by rare virtue of being less dense than liquid water, floats on the surface of the surface of the pond or lake, rather than freezing at the bottom which would happen if ice were denser than water, which is the norm with so many other liquids. This unusual, almost unique, attribute — of solid water (ice) being lighter than liquid water — has played a hard to overstate role in allowing for life on earth to evolve and flourish, for if ice were denser the entire waterbody would freeze solid to the detriment of everything living in it.

Unlike immobile species such as trees, mobile species (i.e. animals that fly!) adapt to winter by simply leaving it behind, winging to warmer climates where they can continue to feed (some species living a perpetual summer existence!). Such is the case with dozens of bird, bat, and insect species that migrate vast distances to find climates and associated food supplies to their liking. 

For example, ospreys depart from northern latitudes because the fish they depend upon are unavailable, either because they can’t access them due to ice or because salt-water fish move into deeper water where they cannot be caught, forcing ospreys to move to habitats within climates where food is available. Insect-eating songbirds move off too but in their case because of the disappearance of available insects.

Mobile species that don’t migrate employ a variety of other strategies to survive the winter. A perhaps most well-known — but relatively rare — strategy is hibernation. Hibernating mammals species adapt to winter by so reducing their energy and water needs they can tide over from autumn to spring. 

The woodchuck (aka groundhog) is the best known hibernator. Curled in an underground den, a hibernating woodchuck’s heart beat drops from about 100 beats per minute to four to five and its body temperature more than half, from about 99 degrees to 38-40 degrees. Bats that don’t leave for warmer climates also hibernate. All hibernating species depend upon stores of fat, built up from continued feeding in the autumn, as the energy source to make it through winter.

Just below hibernation is torpor, a physiological state in which the animal’s metabolism, heart and breathing rates are reduced but which still allows it to be alert enough to react to danger. Chipmunks (and bears) are well known examples and speaking of chipmunks — they illustrate another common practice of many animals to make it through the winter — storing up food in winter larder. Beavers do the same by bringing leaf-laden branches underwater, a wet refrigerator of sorts, where food is safely ensconced.

Regulated hypothermia is yet another adaptation to surviving winter. In this case, the animal reduces its temperature while sleeping, enabling it to reduce the amount of heat lost to the air overnight. Black-capped chickadees are a well-known example. During the winter chickadees drop their temperature each night from about 108 degrees to the mid-90’s by employing this practice. They also seek sheltered places like tree cavities (another reason to let dead trees stand if they pose no safety risk) and dense vegetation where they can stay warmer.

Cold blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians make it through winter by experiencing their own form of hibernation — an activity known as brumation. Like with warm blooded animals, brumating reptiles and amphibians significantly reduce their heart, breathing and general metabolic rates. Some species, like diamondback terrapins, are spared the full brunt of winter by brumating in the muddy bottoms of bays, harbors, and river mouths where the temperature never drops below freezing. Not so with the wood frog, a wide ranging amphibian that in March emerges to explosively breed in woodland vernal pools around Long Island. 

Wood frogs are known to freeze solid, becoming ‘frogsicles’ during the winter and getting as close as a live animal can get to being dead. As autumn slides into winter, wood frogs undergo a several-step physiological process whereby water is pulled out of cells and is stored between them. This movement of water from inside the cell to sites between the cells occurs because water stored within the cell, if frozen, would form sharp ice crystals, likely puncturing cell membranes, thereby destroying the cell. 

The frog’s metabolism, breathing, and heartbeat stop and the frog remains in a state of animated suspension for many weeks. Come the Spring though, and this very dead looking frog slowly comes back to life, none worse for the wear. It becomes active and vibrant, soon filling small wetlands with its quacking duck calls.

For the lover of nature and the outdoors there are gifts of winter: clear night skies; falling snow and geometric snowflakes; frost patterns on windows; sledding and hot chocolate (or for some adults mulled apple cider spiked with a little spirit!); no leaves to hide bird nests or tree buds, like those of American Beech, which Henry David Thoreau called “the spears of Spring”; the dried stalks of countless wildflowers; the “pen and ink” quality of landscapes; the presence of snowy owls and snow buntings at the beach; or the arrival of many types of ducks and geese. Winter is not an absence of summer; it is a season complete and whole to itself.

Perhaps this article won’t serve to change your thinking if you’re among the crowd of people who find winter to be their least favorite season. Still, winter illustrates so clearly and compellingly the fine-tuned lives of so many plants and animals, each unique to this time of cold, lives that have developed, over eons of time, countless strategies to make it through the unrelenting cold and sparse food supplies of the winter season.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

Cool mist humidifiers add moisture to the air in the winter months. Stock photo
Mild dehydration can lead to decreased concentration, subdued  mood, fatigue and headaches

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Dehydration typically gets attention during the summer months, when we spend more time outside in the heat. However, during the cooler winter months, it can also be troublesome. Dry heat quickly evaporates moisture in the air, making it hard to stay hydrated.

Complications and symptoms of dehydration can be mild to severe, ranging from constipation, mood changes, headaches and heart palpitations to heat stroke, migraines and heart attacks.

In addition, the dry air can make our throats and sinuses dry, making us uncomfortable and more susceptible to irritations and viruses.

Dehydration is simple to avoid, right? Not necessarily. We may be dehydrated before we’re thirsty. Let’s look at some of the consequences of dehydration and suggestions for avoiding it.

Tension-type migraines

In a review of studies published in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, those who drank four cups more water had significantly fewer hours of migraine pain than those who drank less (1). Headache intensity decreased as well.

Heart palpitations

Heart palpitations are very common and are broadly felt as a racing heart rate, skipped beat, pounding sensation or fluttering. Dehydration and exercise are contributing factors (2). They occur mainly when we don’t hydrate prior to exercise. All we need to do is drink one glass of water prior to exercise and then drink during exercise to avoid palpitations. Though these symptoms are not usually life-threatening, they are anxiety producing for patients.

Heart attacks

The Adventist Health Study, an observational study, showed a dose-response curve for men (3). In other words, group one, which drank more than five glasses of water daily, had the least risk of death from heart disease than group two, which drank more than three glasses of water daily. Those in group three, which drank fewer than two glasses per day, saw the least amount of benefit, comparatively. For women, there was no difference between groups one and two; both fared better than group three.

The reason for this effect, according to the authors, may relate to blood or plasma viscosity (thickness) and fibrinogen, a substance that helps clots form.

Decreased concentration

In a study, mild dehydration resulted in decreased concentration, subdued mood, fatigue and headaches in women (4). In this small study the mean age of participants was 23, and they were neither athletes nor highly sedentary. Dehydration was caused by walking on a treadmill with or without taking a diuretic (water pill) prior to the exercise. The authors concluded that adequate hydration was needed, especially during and after exercise.

I would also suggest, from my practice experience, hydration prior to exercise.

Staying hydrated

Now we realize we need to stay hydrated, but how do we go about this? How much water we need to drink depends on circumstances, such as diet, activity levels, environment and other factors. It is not true necessarily that we all should be drinking eight glasses of water a day. 

In a review article, the authors analyzed the data, but did not find adequate studies to suggest that eight glasses is supported in the literature (5). It may actually be too much for some patients.

You may also get a significant amount of water from the foods in your diet. Nutrient-dense diets, like Mediterranean or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), have a plant-rich focus. A study notes that diets with a focus on fruits and vegetables increases water consumption (6). As you may know, 95 percent of the weights of many fruits and vegetables are attributed to water. An added benefit is an increased satiety level without eating calorically dense foods.

Remember that salty foods can be dehydrating, including breads and pastries, so try to avoid these.

Are caffeinated drinks dehydrating?

In a review, it was suggested that caffeinated coffee and tea don’t increase the risk of dehydration, even though caffeine is a mild diuretic (7). With moderate amounts of caffeinated beverages, the liquid has a more hydrating effect than its diuretic effect.

Keeping some humidity in the air

To reduce sinus inflammation and dry skin that you can experience with heated air, measure the humidity level in your home with a hygrometer and target keeping it between 30 and 50 percent (8). When the temperature outside drops below 10 degrees F, lower this to 25 percent.

Strategies for adding moisture to the air include using cool mist humidifiers, keeping the bathroom door open after you bathe or shower, and placing bowls of water strategically around your home, including on your stovetop when you cook. If you use a humidifier, take care to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions and clean it regularly.

It is important to stay hydrated to avoid complications — some are serious, but all are uncomfortable. Diet is a great way to ensure that you get the triple effect of high nutrients, increased hydration and sense of feeling satiated without calorie-dense foods. However, don’t go overboard with water consumption, especially if you have congestive heart failure or open-angle glaucoma (9).

References:

(1) Handb Clin Neurol. 2010;97:161-72. (2) my.clevelandclinic.org. (3) Am J Epidemiol 2002 May 1; 155:827-33. (4) J. Nutr. February 2012 142: 382-388. (5) AJP – Regu Physiol. 2002;283:R993-R1004. (6) Am J Lifestyle Med. 2011;5(4):316-319. (7) Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2007;35(3):135-140. (8) epa.gov (9) Br J Ophthalmol. 2005:89:1298–1301.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com. 

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Panic, which started in my stomach and had seeped so deep into the sinews of my fingers that I could barely write my own name, was overcoming me.

I was staring at the problem, knowing that I could do it if I calmed down, but also fearing that the answer wouldn’t come in time.

I had studied this type of organic chemistry problem for weeks, had attended every extra help session Randy, my teaching assistant and the head teaching fellow for the class, gave, including several late in the evening on Sunday nights.

If I froze up for too long, I ran the risk of not finishing that problem or the test. I couldn’t come up with a solution, and I couldn’t move on.

Then, it hit me. No, it wasn’t the solution. It was Randy’s overwhelming cologne. My teaching fellow was walking up and down the rows of the testing site, making sure no one was cheating, while responding to requests to go to the bathroom.

Something about his cologne brought me back to one of the many study sessions, helping me break the mental logjam in my head and sending me toward the solution that was right under my nose.

As we enter the 11th month of this pandemic, we can see and hear many of the cues we would get if we were continuing to live the lives we took for granted, but we are much more limited in what we can smell, especially if we are sticking with federal guidelines and staying put.

So, what smells do I miss the most?

While I enjoy visiting Long Island beaches in the summer, when the trio of hazy, hot and humid hovers in the air, I particularly appreciate the cold, salt spray of a winter beach, when the scent of crispy and frozen seaweed blends with air that seems to have brought hints of its cold journey across the ocean.

Then, of course, there is the missing smell of the kinds of foods that aren’t in our own kitchens or right next door. One of my favorite restaurants, the Good Steer sends out the scent of their onion rings in every direction around the building, calling to me and recalling my youth when my late father would watch happily as all three of his sons consumed our double order of onion rings, alongside our burger supremes.

While all ice might seem to smell the same, the scent of Alaska’s glaciers brings a frozen crispness to an inhospitable climate. Marveling at the ice around a cruise my wife and I took over two decades ago, I inhaled the cool fresh scent of frozen water.

Then there’s the food from all over the world. The enticing smells of freshly baked baguettes and fruity macarons in Parisian patisseries, the welcoming scent of fish caught earlier that day on Hawaiian beaches or the symphony of smells from places like Faneuil Hall, where Boston accents form the acoustic backdrop for the smell of flowers, steaks, and baked beans.

With spring just a month away, I turn to thoughts of baseball and Yankee Stadium. Yes, of course, numerous odors throughout the stadium — from other fans who could use some of Randy’s cologne to restrooms that don’t smell like a rose garden — aren’t the first things that come to mind. I’m talking about the smell of the grass and the dirt after the grounds crew waters it. That baseball field scent conjures infinite possibilities, from triple plays to triples off the wall, from immaculate innings to grass-stained catches. The smell of hot dogs and soft buns entice us as vendors march up and down the stairs nearby.

These days, we can see and hear people through FaceTime calls, but we can’t smell them. That person might love orange Tic Tacs, tuna fish sandwiches, fresh roasted coffee or any of a host of other scents — cinnamon rolls, perhaps —that define her the same way the light highlights a crooked-toothed smile. We might find Tic Tacs that remind us of them, but, without the combination of scents, including their laundry detergent, their soap or their conditioner, or their physical presence, we are missing that olfactory connection.

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The Port Jefferson Ice Festival Included a multitude of ice based activities, such as watching carvings by Richard Daly and ice skating. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Ice was looking very nice in Port Jefferson last weekend as the village hosted its first ever Ice Festival Feb. 8 and 9, bringing in a professional ice sculptor who made a marvel for nearly every business downtown.

Richard Daly, New York’s only certified master ice carver, came down for both days showing off his skill and artistry. Despite warm weather on Saturday, crowds streamed into the village to witness Daly in his craft, running a chainsaw over huge blocks of ice. Each business had its own individual sculpture, such as a giant burger in front of Gourmet Burgers Bistro and Baby Yoda in front of Prohibition Kitchen. Also, businesses were booked out in tickets for the Mac and Cheese Crawl, where people could sample the cheesy pasta samples from 18 separate businesses.

The event was sponsored by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District.

All photos by Julianne Mosher

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The recent frigid weather was good training to harden us for our trip north this past weekend. We went high up in the Green Mountains of Vermont to ski. Now before you wonder at my sanity, I hasten to repeat what my clever neighbor told me when he heard we were going. “Skiing? Just hang out at the bar for a couple of days, then come back and tell us you went skiing. We’ll never know.”

So with proper full disclosure, I confess that I did not ski. I stretched out before a roaring fire in the lodge with a good book that was interrupted only occasionally for some good food and a good nap here and there. But my children and grandchildren skied and dutifully reported back at the end of each day in such vivid detail that I felt like I had swooshed down from the summit but without the cold and the half-hour wait on the lift lines to get there. Now don’t get me wrong. I always loved to ski. Why else would I have put up with the long drives, the absurd boots, the itchy hats and the running nose except for those few exhilarating moments when the view of the valley below from above the snow line is spectacular, the air is sharp and clear, the snow sparkles with sunlight in an unbroken trail before me and the deep silence assures me that the splendor is mine alone.

That said, age has its advantages, and I stayed warm and dry, letting subsequent generations enjoy the marvel of skiing.

We were there to celebrate my middle son’s 50th birthday. It became a tradition in our family, when my oldest son turned 50, that we would gather at the location of his choosing to properly mark the occasion together. This trip was not without its dangers but not from skiing. It was the drive up to the slopes on Friday that kept us on the edge of our seats in the car, peering into the darkness. If you remember, the day began uncharacteristically warm, but as the hours went by, a deep freeze descended from the north and pushed into the warmer air, creating dense fog.

We crossed the Sound on the ferry, unable to see the shores, and actually missed the turnoff to the Merritt Parkway and thence Interstate 91 from Route 8 on the Connecticut side because the fog shrouded the signs above our heads on the roadway. That wasn’t of any great consequence as we continued on Route 8 to Interstate 84 East, a slightly longer stretch, but it did serve to warn us of what lay ahead.

We drove for the next couple of hours and the fog only seemed to intensify, but we were in good spirits anticipating the coming weekend’s festivities. We even stopped for a nice German dinner in Springfield, Massachusetts. What difference would a couple of extra hours make, we rationalized, since it was going to be dark anyway by the time we left the highway?

Initially driving wasn’t so difficult on Route 103, the first of the back-country roads, because there were other cars snaking along, marking the contours of the road with the glow of red taillights. At one point a bus joined the parade in front of us, and that was dandy. The real problems started when we turned onto Route 100 and left the bus behind. So dense was the fog that we missed the turn and had to circle back for a second try. 

We were all alone from that point on, sometimes inching our way forward, straining to follow the yellow midline. Snowbanks lined the road, with only an occasional reflective marker to indicate a precipice off to the side. In that fashion, our hazard lights blinking noisily in the car to avoid anyone colliding with us, we traveled the next 24 miles. We knew we were climbing because our ears popped periodically, but we could see nothing of the mountains. We finally arrived at our lodging, a couple of hours later, in a glazed-eye stupor.

After that, simply skiing was a piece of cake. Birthday cake, that is.      

In the dark of night, it silently slithered toward the back of the car, spray painting the windows with a sheen of opaque white.

It made its way around the car, finding the seam in the doors and filling it with surprisingly strong epoxy. It glided down to the ground and sucked some of the warm air out of the tires. The car was trapped on the driveway with no way to fight off this unwelcome intruder. If its alarm could have gone off, it would have warned us. But, no, that alarm only goes off early in the morning on the weekends, when someone opens the door with the key instead of deactivating the alarm system with a button, annoying the neighbors and embarrassing our kids and us in equal measure.

It slid under the hood. It paused over the heart of the machine, looking for places to extend its icy fingers into the exposed engine, snickering with delight at the opportunity to turn 3,000 pounds of metal into a frozen couch.

It reached into the battery and deactivated the power.

On my way to the car, it issued a warning, or was it a challenge, when it wrapped its icy fingers around my neck. I tried to ignore it and stick with my routine. When I turned the key, however, the car coughed weakly.

“Come on,” I pleaded, as the cold scraped its icicle hands against my exposed calf. I tried again. The third time was not the charm, either.

After getting a jump start, I decided to outsmart the wretched cold. I cleared space in the garage, hauling all the heavy items parked there into the basement. The garage door and the walls of the house would offer greater protection. No, I wasn’t giving the car a blanket and pillow and setting it up with reruns of “Knight Rider,” but I was protecting the family car.

The next day, I went through the basement into the garage, put the key in the ignition and beamed broadly as the internal combustion engine roared to life. Ha! I foiled the frigid air. I told the kids to climb in the car, which warmed up rapidly as a reward for keeping it in the garage, and drove triumphantly to school. The cold wouldn’t undermine my day, I thought, as I maneuvered through the responsibilities of the day.

When I returned home, I found that the cold had recruited my garage door to its unworthy cause. I didn’t look carefully enough when I had pulled away from the house. The garage door, fooled by a small piece of snow in the corner of the floor, thought it had hit something and reopened, where it stayed all day.

I pulled the car in, closed the garage and waited for the door to close. When the metal door reached the ground, it reopened. I played a short game with the door, pushing the button just after it started to open again so that the cold air had only a small opening.

“I win,” I announced as I entered the warm house.

When I turned on the water in my bathroom the next morning, I realized I had lost. The combination of the cold from the open garage from the day before and the small crack at the bottom of the door was enough to enable the cold to lay its frozen hands on my pipes.

Several hours later, the plumber, who was busier than a foraging ant during a Fourth of July picnic, shivered in the garage and proclaimed the small opening under the door as the culprit.

This cold snap, which finally left the area earlier this week, won this battle.

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As we forge ahead into 2018, there are a few charitable lessons from the holidays that we should carry with us through the year, especially this winter.

December is the single largest month of the year for giving, according to the 2016 Charitable Giving Report published by Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact. Based on information from thousands of nonprofits, the report found December is when more than 20 percent of all donations are made. It’s called the Season of Giving or The Most Wonderful Time of the Year in no small part because it’s when people are most likely to open their pockets or donate time to help others.

There are good Samaritans who have taken caring for others to heart. North Shore residents stopped to check in on an elderly or disabled neighbor during winter storm Grayson or even offered to help shovel out walkways and driveways.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) worked with one such individual, identified only as Ken from Ronkonkoma, who helped first responders dig out two motorists stranded on the side of the Long Island Expressway.

Last week, PSEG reported more than 16,500 of its customers lost power during the snowstorm. While more than 76 percent had it restored by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 4, according to PSEG, those individuals with electric heat were temporarily left in the cold.

Keeping the giving alive year-round can help make the cold, dreary winter brighter for less fortunate and needy families. It doesn’t cost anything but a few minutes to check in on neighbors to a make sure he or she is warm and OK. Better yet, lend a hand to help shovel a walkway or snow blow a path so he or she can safely get in and out of a home in case of an emergency.

Families struggling to make ends meet can get assistance in paying for electricity or home heating fuel. Suffolk County’s Home Energy Assistance Program started accepting applications Jan. 2 at 631-853-8820 for families in need of one-time assistance. The nonprofit United Way has opened applications for its Project Warmth, a program that offers a one-time grant for families struggling to pay heating bills. Project Warmth can be contacted by its 211 hotline or by calling 888-774-7633 seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Search through closets for gently used or new winter jackets, scarves, hats or gloves that can be donated to one of the many collection drives currently underway for residents in need of warm clothing. The Town of Brookhaven’s Youth Bureau is collecting donations starting Jan. 12 at town hall, the highway department and senior and recreation centers. Long Island Cares in Hauppauge also accepts donated coats. Many Salvation Army locations even accept appliance donations, like space heaters.

Just because the giving season is over does not mean that some of our neighbors are any less in need of assistance. Taking a few minutes to check in on others or point them to a service that offers assistance can help everyone get 2018 off to a positive start.

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A coat drive at Comsewogue High School resulted in about 50 coats being distributed to needy people in the Port Jefferson Station area. Photo by Alex Petroski

Residents in the Port Jefferson Station area and beyond need not be left out in the cold this winter.

A somewhat spontaneous winter coat drive sprung up in Port Jefferson Station last week thanks to the efforts of a pair of old friends: a business owner in Nassau County and an employee in the Comsewogue School District. David Jacobson, founding executive director of Collector Car Showcase in Oyster Bay started Layers of Love NY with his longtime friend John Worobey, who provides technology support at Comsewogue, working in the district for 17 years. The organization, which is referred to on its website as a movement, was the byproduct of a brief conversation between the friends earlier this year.

“I went into a classroom last year and there was a child hanging a coat out the window in the middle of the winter,” Worobey recalled during the Oct. 28 coat drive in the Comsewogue High School cafeteria. “I asked the teacher ‘what’s going on? Why is he hanging a coat out the window?’ She said that a lot of the kids in the class didn’t have coats and people donated coats, and his happened to smell like cigarettes. So he was hanging it out the window to air out.”

Worobey said when he told Jacobson about what he had observed his friend was equally taken aback.

“During a casual conversation he said to me some kids come to school with no coats on in the middle of the winter,” Jacobson said. “I was like ‘that’s not okay.’”

Jacobson said they decided they would host a coat drive later in the year and began collecting coats through a variety of avenues. He said they placed Layers of Love NY collection boxes at car dealerships around Long Island; and at The Hoffman Center in Muttontown, a museum named after Maximilian Hoffman, an Austrian-born racecar driver and importer of luxury automobiles in the 1950s; among other locations. On Oct. 1 the museum hosted an event called Driven to America, at which the organization collected even more coats. Jacobson said he heard stories from people showing up to the event who had purchased as many as 10 brand new coats to contribute for the drive.

By the time the event began at Comsewogue, about 250 coats were laid out across the cafeteria tables available for anyone who walked in to look through and pick the perfect fit.

“Whatever we give away today we’re happy,” Jacobson said. The event resulted in the distribution of about 50 coats, with families with multiple children arriving throughout the morning to bundle up ahead of winter. The co-founders of the event each indicated they planned to learn from the 2017 incarnation of their vision and use the information to improve it in years to come.

“It’s a stepping stone, something we’re going to build upon,” Jacobson said.

Worobey said he thought Comsewogue was the perfect location for a coat drive like this because of the community’s inherent nature of giving.

“That makes you feel good,” Worobey said, waving to a group that had just collected several coats and were heading on their way.

Jacobson said the organization will begin collecting coats for a 2018 drive next July. Anyone interested in learning more about Layers of Love NY should visit www.layersofloveny.com.