Two years ago, when he was 11, Cory Nichols saw a documentary on poverty called “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island.” Cory, who has been acting on television and in movies since he was 6, was in the audience at the Long Island International Film Expo, where a film in which he co-starred was screening as well.
But it was “Hard Times” that made the biggest impression on Cory, who is now a ninth-grader at Oceanside High School. “It made me really want to help our community,” he said. “People don’t have to say they’re in need to be in need.” So he decided to take action.
Now Cory solicits at least $100 a month in donations from friends and family members, and buys food that he donates to two Oceanside food pantries, one operated by Oceanside Community Service and the other by St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. The pantries email him a list of their most-needed foods every month. His donors receive orange bracelets that say, “C the Difference: Cory Cares.”
“I have enough money to take me way past high school,” he said of the contributions. He has raised over $10,000, and the money is still coming in.
His original goal, in September 2012, was $1,200, for a calendar year. “I assumed I wouldn’t even make that number,” he said, “and would have to use my own money.”
Since then, Cory has spent $5,000 on groceries — $1,500 last Thanksgiving alone, for a holiday meal organized by rock CAN roll, a Jericho-based hunger relief organization.
This month, he won $1,000 in the Jolly Time Popcorn Kernels of Kindness contest. He was one of 100 winners from around the country, chosen because he had helped his community with an act of kindness.
Cory’s grandmother, Judi Brower, nominated him for the award. “I thought what he was doing was so cool,” she said. “That at 12 years old, he was that concerned, and could start something so charitable and keep working at it. Very inspiring to me.”
“I was just thrilled, because I didn’t know about it,” Cory said.
“His story stuck out because he’s a teen and he took it upon himself to make a difference,” said Tracy Boever, a Jolly Time spokeswoman. “… I think the main [reason] was just his age and that he’s making a difference, and he’s continuing on — not just a one-time thing.”