Last Saturday, the Village of Malverne had numerous village-wide events lined up for people of all ages. However, the spread of the coronavirus put a halt to those plans. Community members have since found new ways to promote their events.
One of the canceled events was Our Lady of Lourdes’ annual Souper Scavenger Hunt, in which residents roam the village in groups to collect donations for the parish’s food pantry. Linda Baldacchino, one of the event’s coordinators, said the group now plans to hold the scavenger hunt on June 27.
“It was disappointing for us to postpone the event,” Baldacchino said, “but we had to make sure that this does happen at some point, because the food pantry relies on this event so much. The alternative food drive, however, did really well. People really came out to support us.”
Baldacchino explained that the Rev. Michael Duffy, spiritual leader of Our Lady of Lourdes, organized a food drive at the church March 19-21. The food collected during that drive, she said, will be kept in OLL’s food bank. Baldacchino added that people can drop donations off at the church.
“The idea behind the food bank is to have a store of food available in the event that this COVID-19 virus hits the community hard, and people aren’t able to get out from their homes due to sickness,” said OLL volunteer Don Pupke. “It’s also for those who can’t afford food to due to the fact that they’ve been laid off.”
Pupke and Duffy discussed the idea, which they later pitched to Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett. Corbett then spoke with other church leaders in the village, and they agreed to run the food drive through OLL.
“The support we’ve gotten has been overwhelming,” Pupke said. “The reason we did the collection [two weeks ago] is because we anticipated that there would be severe restrictions placed on everybody.”
Our Lady of Lourdes has also put together a community outreach for senior citizens in the village, calling them to see if they have any needs. Pupke said the church has given 25 volunteers with call lists of local seniors. Seniors will receive a call every other day until the pandemic abates.
“It works out better for the community this way,” Pupke said. “The idea is, as a community, we can act much faster than the government, and we can assess people’s needs on an immediate basis rather than having to go through the bureaucracy of government.”
Another one of the canceled events was American Legion Post 44’s annual Walk-A-Thon to raise funds for veterans in the village. The legion held its first Walk-A-Thon in 2018, in which Post 44 veterans walked with children down Franklin Avenue. The group collected $800 in donations that year.
“Just because you can’t walk with us this year, you can still have your boots on the ground to help walk in spirit with our veterans,” said Ladies Auxiliary President Dr. Carol Hassett. “If you can, we would appreciate your consideration of any amount to help our veterans.”
Hassett said the Department of State advised Post 44 that anyone who is interested in donating to veterans who are hospitalized, living in state homes, awaiting placement or in need of shelter can send checks to the American Legion at P.O. Box 44, Malverne, N.Y. 11565.
“It would be a great project for children at home to reach out to all veterans,” Hassett said. “If you wish to send a card with or without a donation, we would be very thankful.”