In late June, Port Cares, a coalition of local organizations, got together to sponsor and support a food and paper pantry drive hosted at the Port Washington Stop & Shop. Members of the Port community were asked to donate various non-perishable food items and home staples to be sorted and given to multiple food pantries and a paper pantry.
Jeff Stone, President of Project H.E.L.P Long Island and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Manhasset and Port Washington, worked to organize the food and paper pantry drive alongside the various participating pantries and local organizations.
Stone talked with representatives from the three food pantries and one paper pantry to decide what times of the year are best to host these events and what items should be listed for donation. The food pantries are Our Lady Fatima, St. Peter’s of Alcantara Church and the Littig House. The paper pantry is at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior.
“We had a food and paper drive in February, and we are having another one in September,” said Stone. “After listening to the food pantry directors, we learned its best to hold these drives in the lean months of the year.”
The food pantries, paper pantry and the Port Washington Community Chest suggested combining the food drive and paper drive to accommodate for all of the various donations Port residents consistently make when drives are held throughout the year.
“To me, this event is an ‘all hands on deck’ operation,” said Stone.
With Port Cares, local organizations such as Project H.E.L.P, Residents Forward, Lions International, the Kiwanis Club, the Parent Resource Center, the Community Chest and the Knights of Columbus work together to sponsor and promote the drive to their followings.
“It was a great turnout,” said Stone. “I was concerned about people willing to donate foods and paper products considering the prices today are higher, but it never ceases to amaze me how good and generous this community is. Everyone was happy to see us out there. Stop & Shop is now our really good neighbor and partner.”
Stone estimates that the drive filled nearly 85 bankers’ boxes and bags with food products and 30 large bags with paper products to distribute to the food pantries and paper pantry.
Food items donated included cooking oil, rice, breakfast foods, pasta, canned foods, soup, snacks for kids and more. Household items for the paper pantry donated included tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, hand and dish soap, toothpaste and brushes, baby wipes and other basic hygiene necessities.
“The day after the drive, a pick-up truck from the Atlantic Hook and Ladder Compay 1 of the Port Washington Fire Department came to pick up the donations boxes and bags to deliver to the food pantries and paper pantry,” said Stone.
“Instead of one group doing one thing, which is nice, it’s great to do it as a community. It’s all about community here in Port,” said Stone. “[The drive] was a good experience, it shows people in Port that there are groups that do these things to improve our communities.”
Stone discussed the plans for Project H.E.L.P. Long Island, whose mission is to unite Long Island communities by providing education and awareness on mental health and addiction. Project H.E.L.P. will be working with mental health professionals to bring awareness to schools, universities, and communities across the Island. The organization plans to work with other local groups like the Kiwanis Club to spread information on mental health and addiction.
“Right now, I’m working to organize an effort for August 13 at Manorhaven Park,” said Stone. “We will have local organizations join us at the park for a free barbecue where attendees can learn about the mission of the various organizations and become inspired to join them. It will be a meet-and-greet event to reach out to the community at large and let them know what we do.”
“There is a great need right now, whether it is food insecurity or mental health issues,” said Stone. “And I try to do my part in helping and encouraging others to see what they can do too.”
The next Port Cares food and paper pantry drive will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10. Follow any of the various Port Cares organizations to stay updated on events.