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Lending a holiday hand

Kiwanis, TOH link with Seaford food pantries for holiday season

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As a historically unpredictable year nears an end, Seaford Kiwanis is focused on providing stability to the community with its annual holiday food drive.

Last year the service organization collected 155 pounds of nonperishable food, which it donated to Long Island Cares. It set up a tent in Seamans Neck Park on the opening day of the Seaford-based Long Island Broncos youth football and cheerleading organization in September, and parents and children stopped by to drop off food items.

This year, there were no opening-day ceremonies and no tents, but amid the worsening coronavirus, the need in the community is even greater. This year, the donations Kiwanis collects will be sent to St. William the Abbot’s food pantry, to be distributed to Seaford’s most needy families. The club has set up a number of drop-off locations in the hamlet and is encouraging people to donate. The main location is at 3960 Merrick Road, the Edward Jones Investments building, which houses the office of Kiwanis President Steve Katz.

“We didn’t feel pressure to help — we felt an added sense of inspiration,” said Katz. “Pressure puts a negative connotation on it. There is no pressure. Anything that helps put a smile on someone’s face or makes a situation more palatable for a family, that’s our goal. We love helping the community, and we can never do enough for our neighbors.”

The need is apparent, Katz said, and has been since the onset of the pandemic, and Kiwanians haven’t just started another holiday food drive. They have worked tirelessly all year, collecting books to donate to the Freeport-based nonprofit the Book Fairies to promote youth literacy, and organizing a successful coat drive.

“We want to target our com

munity locally,” Katz said. “Especially with the pandemic and with people out of work, the need is there, more so even than in years past.”

Since March, Kiwanis member Donna Jebaily has led numerous charitable projects, including organizing residents’ donations to pay for health care workers’ meals provided by local restaurants, helping to stimulate their business as well.

“I was in touch with St. William the Abbot, and although we usually do [the food drive] for LI Cares, I figured, why not do it more locally?” Jebaily said. She added that she hoped to top last year’s numbers, especially with a longer donation period.

“We’re going to run this through Dec. 30,” Jebaily said. “Or we might not. We might go beyond that. If everyone’s situation stays like this past December, we will continue. We’ll do it as long as people want to donate.”

Along with non-perishable food items, the suggested donations include toiletries as well as paper towels, toilet paper and Clorox wipes.

Hempstead Town Councilman Christopher Carini, of Seaford, a Kiwanis member, is helping spread the word via social media. Carini and other town representatives are also taking part in the Town of Hempstead Thanksgiving Food Drive, which has partnered with CSEA Local 880 to donate proceeds to For the Love of Pete’s Pantry in Seaford.

The town food drive will accept donations until Friday. For more information on requested items and drop-off sites, go to https://bit.ly/3kCnp8b.

“This time period now compounds the urgency,” Katz said of the Kiwanis Food Drive. “It is absolutely important and imperative. Especially when you take note of the older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions who will be stuck in the house, and those who are in dire straits or a difficult situation. Now is the time.”

“The people in this community give back,” he added. “It is so gratifying to see. It makes our jobs easier when people are so generous. We can’t thank the community enough.”