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Sisters, raising 6 kids, launch virus help Facebook page

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It's not as if Giulia Simone-Kessler and her sister, Teresa Simone-Trapkus, have a lot of time on their hands and little to do. Simone-Kessler has four children and her sister has 2, including a baby girl, born March 3. The sisters, their husbands, and all the children temporarily share a house in Lido Beach.

The household can be crazy at times, Simone-Kessler, a Long Beach teacher, who is on maternity leave.

But the sisters found some spare time wanted to do what they could to help out in the coronavirus pandemic. So they started a site on Facebook - Serving Those Who Serve Us 11561. The idea is to take donations made on the site and use the money to buy food at local stores on the barrier beach, and distribute them to police officers, firefighters, postal workers, hospital staff and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. They site can be reached at @serving11561. Donations are through Venmo.

The sisters launched the site March 24, and have already collected $2,000. They began buying food and began making deliveries during the past week.

On Thursday night, they handed out pizzas and other foods to firefighters.

"Every time we make a delivery, we feel so good," Simone-Kessler said. "The hope we saw all around us was wonderful."

"My sister and I were feeling helpless," Simone said. "She (Simone-Kessler) got the idea for this site. I had this short period of feeling, Oh oh. What did I get myself into? But doing something like this for the community makes you feel so good."

The sisters plan to continue making donations for the duration of the pandemic. They are sharing the house while renovations are done on the Simone-Kessler's home in Long Beach. Their husbands, Thomas Kessler and Dane Trapkus, often pitch in on the deliveries. Food went to Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, the Long Beach fire and police departments and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

Andrew Allotti, owner of Grotta de Fuoco in Long Beach, was visited by the sisters last week. They bought $100 work of food from him.

"They said they had collected donations and they were going to the police department," Allotti said. "They said they had a $100 budget and asked if I could put something together." He provided pizzas, three types of pasta, orders of rice balls, and other items.

"We appreciated the work," Allotti said. "It benefitted the business. We could use the extra business.