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Feeding local heroes and friends on the South Shore

Hewlett resident establishes group to support restaurants

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Support for restaurants in the Five Towns and other South Shore communities has blossomed in a brief time to hundreds of contributors paying for meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – to be delivered to essential businesses and services, ranging from doctors’ offices to CVS, hospitals, and police precincts, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Blair Freiberg-Longaro, a Hewlett resident who grew up in Lawrence, began on March 20 what she called the “Feeding local heroes and friends” Facebook group which has grown into a cottage industry of donors that has purchased more than $7,000 worth of food. The private Facebook group page has 694 members, as of press time.

Meals bought in several Five Towns eateries and in East Rockaway and Lynbrook have been delivered across those communities and in Malverne, New Hyde Park, Oceanside and Valley Steam, to show appreciation for the people providing needed services during the health crisis.

It all began with Longaro ordering as much food as possible for her family to eat and to support area restaurants Her thought she said was, who else could use some food at this trying time? First, she bought lunch for Dr. Brian Blinderman’s Hewlett office. Blinderman was Longaro’s pediatrician and now her two sons’ physician. Her sons are helping with the group, Longaro said.

“So, I put up a post explaining what I wanted to, that it was an experiment to order from local businesses and send food to people who couldn’t be home,” she said.

The purchasing of meals has become a literal feeding frenzy. Her posts between March 20 and now detail which places have received meals and where the food was purchased from.

“The contributions come in and go out, it’s 24/7,” Longaro said. “I have my own job, so I recruited a few people.” She is the transportation coordinator for the Hewlett-Woodmere School District.

“This actually made me cry, love this,” Eileen O’Gara Linzer posted on the group page. “So grateful to be a part of it.” “So happy to be a small part of this,” Melissa Rose Leder wrote, “you are doing an incredible job!”

Melanie Rosen, who also works for the school district, was the first person to make the Herald aware of Longaro’s group. “I think the group is great,” Rosen stated in an email. “I know the children of some of the owners of the businesses in our town. I forwarded this to my local friends on Facebook so they can also help their community. I feel fortunate to be doing OK financially during this crisis. I would hate to see these kids and their families suffer.”

Many businesses have been “served” meals and just as many are a part of the purchasing rotation. To thank all those that have contributed to buying meals, Longaro bought wristbands that are decorated with hearts on either side of the word LOCAL. “We’ll keep it up until the restaurants can welcome back patrons,” she said.

Helpers includes Christine Murello-Bavaro, Sarah Karcinell Fried, Jennifer Lazarus Hagelberg, Kelly Schell McMahon, Heather Jacobson Williams, and many others. Longaro deflects the kudos she has received for the group’s work. “Everyone keeps thanking me and it’s so kind,” she said. “I’m not amazing, I just know amazing people.”

Monetary contributions can be made through Venmo, @BLongaro, PayPal, https://www.paypal.me/blongaro. People connected to the group are also using Zelle. If you have contributed, send a private message to Longaro with your address and she will send you a wristband.