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North Shore organizations unite for NSHS food drive

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Even on a rainy Saturday, the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce successfully coordinated a drive-through food drive at North Shore High School on May 23.

Food drive organizer Constanza Pinilla, who provides legal counsel to the chamber, said over a dozen volunteers were able to provide meals and groceries to roughly 125 families who came by. Food was either donated or paid for by 15 different organizations or people, she said, and she was able to pool roughly $8,000-worth of food together within only four days.

Pinilla said Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman and North Shore Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo helped the chamber in securing NSHS as the food drive’s location. She said the looped driveway was perfectly for distributing food in an orderly manner, and the fact that everybody other than workers stayed in their cars made it so that social distancing guidelines were always followed.

“Whether it’s sunny or raining, people need food,” Pinilla said. “It made it all worthwhile. It was a lot of work in a few days, but it was very satisfying and we were all very happy with the outcome.”

Pinilla said the impetus for the event was a donation of 250 boxes of flatbreads and crackers from Glen Cove City Councilwoman Dr. Eve Lupenko Ferrante and her husband, John Ferrante. Lupenko said their donation was part of their Do Good to Feel Good program, which she and her husband started soon after the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“We originally started that to help ourselves to bring something positive out of this pandemic,” Lupenko said, “so the premise is if you do some good for someone else, you will feel better.”

Lupenko said the program is broken up into two branch, the first of which being she and her husband collecting food donations from JAG Specialty Foods and Falcone Bakery and bringing them to local organizations and food pantries. The second branch sees her team up with Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton in delivering bags of food to people who are isolated and in need.

DeRiggi-Whitton was also on site to help during the food drive, which she said “was really something to see.” She said it was great to see so many people come together in the midst of a pandemic that has harmed so many.

“There are families and people that need help that have told me it’s the first time they’ve ever asked for help ever,” DeRiggi-Whitton said, “so this is a situation that’s really hurting across the board…Deep down inside, we’re all in this together and we really want to be there to support each other.”

NSHCC President Ever Padilla said the food drive was especially important for families of undocumented immigrants. He said many of them are struggling significantly, and he said it made him very happy to see the chamber and the community come together to help such a disenfranchised group of people.

“I’ve had an ongoing relationship with assisting the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce since their inception,” Lupenko said, “and as a small business owner and a City Councilwoman, I want to help support this new organization.”

Pinilla said this food drive is a perfect example of what can be done when community members rally together for the common cause of helping one another.

“I would love for the community to see that,” she said, “when you do act and when you come together for a common good, you get the best out of everybody in a short period of time.”