When Jill Levine and Brooke Jones created a Facebook group to give back to the first responders and essential employees on the “front lines” of the coronavirus pandemic, they were unsure what to expect.
The Merrick residents acknowledged that people might be willing to help those working long hours and late nights, so they created “Bellmore Merrick Helping Our Heroes.” The group popped up on Facebook on March 23, and in just over a week had raised $20,000.
“We were totally blown away by the response,” Levine said, “and the money just keeps coming in.”
Members are asked to contribute small monetary donations via Venmo or PayPal, which are used to purchase food and supplies to be delivered to front-line workers in the community, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and convenience and grocery store employees. Jones said that area restaurants and vendors provide the contents of the deliveries, which helps support those businesses.
Deliveries have already been made at a number of locations, with more scheduled for the coming days (see box). Among the deliveries, the group has donated:
- Hand warmers for workers at the coronavirus testing site at Jones Beach.
- A pizza lunch from Tomato & Basil to CVS Pharmacy in Merrick.
- Hot lunch trays from Guy Anthony’s to Nassau University Medical Center’s emergency room staff.
- Breakfast from Bagel Boss to Bellmore-Merrick EMS workers.
“We have also spoken to our fire departments, supermarkets, pharmacies and quite a few hospital divisions, and we have a lot in the works,” Jones wrote in a post.
Members are asked to provide contact information for “local heroes” so Jones and Levine can identify where to send donations. Jones added that each delivery is being coordinated with an employee at the location receiving it.
Hempstead Town Councilman Christopher Carini, a retired NYPD officer, praised the group’s participants for their generosity during an unprecedented time. “These kind acts go a long way and [are] really appreciated by those on the receiving end,” he wrote in a post. “Thank you to our first responders, medical personnel and all our essential employees. [And] thank you to all who started this group and all its members!”
Levine added that all the recipients said they appreciated group’s efforts.
“People want to help, and a lot of times they don’t know how,” she said. “This has been a place where people can feel like they’re helping.”
Those interested in donating may send a donation via Venmo to @bellmoremerrickhoh.