The efforts of Love Your Neighbor Project and St. Boniface Martyr Catholic Church will make this Halloween fun by providing costumes for roughly 75 children whose families are struggling financially.
With Halloween right around the corner, these children can trick or treat around the North Shore in costumes provided through the Project’s Connect to Spooky Goodness Halloween Costume Drive.
St. Boniface Martyr, located in Sea Cliff, has run its Outreach Pantry and Thrift Shop for the past 25 years, providing residents in Sea Cliff, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing, and Glen Cove with healthy food and gently used clothing. Jody Fleischmann, one of the program’s coordinators, explained that for the last three years, the church has partnered with the Love Your Neighbor Project every Halloween to help families that use the pantry, acquire costumes for their children, with a focus on children between the ages of 2 and 12.
“There’s a lot of families that don’t have the money to go out and spend, you know, $20 or $30 or $40 on a costume,” Fleischmann said. “This really serves so many purposes and helps so many families in need that simply can’t afford a costume.”
The project is a charity organization founded in 2020 focused on promoting community growth, participation and supporting one’s neighbors. While in the first few years they provided costumes to roughly 30 children, this year they were able to get enough donations to provide costumes for as many as 75 children, with enough extras that there were a range of choices to pick from.
Jaime Teich, founder and chief neighbor of the project, said the project had worked closely with Fleischmann and St. Boniface’s outreach coordinators in the past, helping provide food donations during the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic as well as helping to provide Christmas gifts to other families in need. Teich said that when she had heard about the pantry’s need for Halloween costumes, she knew that the project could help.
“Sea Cliff is so known for Halloween, so we didn’t want any family or any child to feel like they couldn’t partake in the celebration that happens in the area,” Teich said. “Because of what was happening in the pandemic, equalizing accessibility was really our aim, and we wanted these children to have the same experience as everyone else.”
Teich and Fleischmann added that each year has been incredibly successful, with community members turning out in droves to provide costumes for their neighbors. Fleischmann said that the families in need have also been hugely appreciative of the effort, and with many coming back year after year.
“Love Your Neighbor Project is just a wonderful, wonderful local program and is one of the few really good highlights and positive things that have come up out of that horrific pandemic,” Fleischmann said. “This is just one of the many success stories that came from them, and they certainly continue to help us at St. Boniface’s.”
At the heart of St. Boniface’s outreach program is a unique approach to food assistance. Instead of pre-packaging items, they offer a “healthy choice” pantry, allowing clients to select the food items they need, including fresh eggs and frozen chickens.
The outreach pantry gets donations from several local food banks, including Long Island Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank, as well as contributions from parishioners and community members. It also gets a wide variety of clothing items from local businesses and donations from North Shore residents, which it sells to families at a significant discount.
The pantry and thrift shop serves roughly 60 families per week and is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone interested in learning more about the outreach pantry and the project can visit their respective websites, StBonifaceMartyr.org and LYNP.org.