The weeks and months following the holiday season can often seem a bit dull. This January and February, however, the Love Your Neighbor Project is once again extending the season of giving with their third annual “Gifts for Goodness” fundraiser.
The Love Your Neighbor Project, a registered 501(c)(3) grassroots non-profit, aims to promote a sense of community among Sea Cliff residents. Founded in May 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the project has fundraised for local charities and hosted numerous events in its brief existence.
Jaime Teich, “Chief Neighbor” of the project, explained that back in 2021 the organization had come up with the idea of reaching out to other charities to see if they could do their part to help.
“The intention is that it coincides with February, which is Acts of Kindness Month, which is what we’re all about,” Teich said. “We wait until after the holidays are all over and then we focus in on kindness and what we can do for our neighbors in the community.”
In the first year of Gifts for Goodness the project paired with St. Boniface Martyr Parish, while last year they worked with Mutual Concerns. This year they are once again working with Mutual Concerns, a grassroots food bank that also provides senior lunch programs and holiday meals to community members in Sea Cliff, Glen Head and Glenwood Landing.
Previously, Gifts for Goodness had raised money to buy personalized gifts for seniors who were lonely following the holidays, with non-essential but meaningful presents such as scarves and sneakers. This year, to streamline the process, Gifts for Goodness will be providing $50 CVS gift cards to roughly 30 seniors.
“It’s a nice gesture that shows that we haven’t forgotten about them, that they’re on our radar,” Peggie Como, the president of Mutual Concerns, explained. “They love little gifts, so it makes them happy.”
One person who went above and beyond to help raise money for the project was Denise Petersen. The Sea Cliff resident operates the yoga business Denise Petersen Yoga.
Petersen said that last Thanksgiving she had been considering the importance of giving back to the community and decided to hold a “donation class” where attendees were encouraged to donate to those in need.
In one class, Petersen managed to raise $500, which she donated to Love Your Neighbor. This act covered the cost of a third of the gift cards, and Petersen said that helping was her way of fulfilling yoga traditions of community-building.
“I was actually so overwhelmed with the amount of giving, because there were tons of people who came of course, but I was also getting donations from people who couldn’t attend the class but wanted to give,” Petersen continued. “To me, for one class to have raised so much really shows the generosity in this community.”