Giving back

Food drive launches season of giving

Volunteers to provide holiday meals to hundreds


A man emerged from the supermarket with three bags filled with groceries. He handed them over to volunteers from East Meadow Kiwanis.

“What did you buy for yourself?” a volunteer asked.

“Nothing,” the man said.

Then he walked away. No one even got his name.

The Herald wrote of another man last November, also nameless, who went into the supermarket for his Sunday newspaper and came out with bags of food to donate.

The combined effort of the aforementioned donors and volunteer coordinators provides the grassroots to what has become a traditional season of giving in East Meadow.

This year’s effort was launched over the past two weekends, as several Kiwanis volunteers collected food from customers outside of the Waldbaums on Front Street. The food is used for the assembly of Thanksgiving meal baskets, which are delivered to families in need in time for the holiday.

Especially during difficult economic times, volunteers say all donations help, whether it is a can of vegetables or an entire Thanksgiving spread.

“Everybody is hurting, including the stores,” said Jay Steinmetz, a Kiwanis past president who coordinates the food collection. “Every item we get is a blessing.”

The list of families in need has grown. According to Steinmetz, at least 115 families in the community will be receiving food baskets for Thanksgiving. Steinmetz said it costs typically between $35 and $40 for each family. The food list includes typical Thanksgiving fare like stuffing, potatoes, yams and cranberry sauce. But donors are also encouraged to contribute items like cereal and pasta for families to utilize throughout the entire holiday weekend.

The Kiwanians provide the turkeys.

With the help of student and adult volunteers, the food is then packed into bags and put into baskets for the individual families. That happens on Friday night, in the Clarke High School cafeteria. And it’s usually done within two hours.

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