In celebration of the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day, residents of Port Washington along with the Community Chest of Port Washington have organized a fundraiser called “Give Port Washington Light And Love.” The purpose of the fundraiser is to help local residents put food on their tables while simultaneously supporting Port Washington restaurants.
The fundraiser asks residents to sponsor traditional red lanterns. Proceeds from the lanterns will be used to purchase gift cards from local restaurants, which will then be provided to as many as 400 local families who currently lean on food pantries and other community faith-based organizations (CFBOs) for provisions. The Community Chest will distribute the gift cards to the CFBOs, which will give the gift cards to the families in-need so that they can purchase a high-quality restaurant meal.
Jill Carvajal, Port Washington Light and Love organizer, came up with the fundraising idea after seeing a similar lantern display in Chinatown, which supported restaurants that had been affected negatively by COVID-19.
“I happened to see that there was a light installation and display down in Chinatown in Manhattan that I thought looked really nice and was for a good cause,” Carvajal said. “People could send their love to Chinatown by sponsoring a lantern to support the restaurants. I thought it was a really nice experience and a feel-good thing to do.”
Carvajal instilled the help of her friend Diane Livingston and together with Bin Hu Laurence, they worked to get the details of the fundraiser ironed out.
“We came up with the idea of creating this light and lantern display down by the waterfront,” Carvajal said. “Diane reached out to the Community Chest to see if they would help us manage the fundraiser and they were very supportive of the idea. And then we thought ‘how can we really broaden the appeal so that we can raise as much money for the families in need.’”
They ultimately decided to make the fundraiser a dual celebration with Valentine’s Day and the Lunar New Year.
More than 100 lanterns will be displayed in Sunset Park by the Town Dock during the month of February, along with a Wishing Tree, which is often part of traditional Lunar New Year’s festivities.
“The other addition that we’ve added is a Wishing Tree, which is customary within the Chinese Community for luck—to go to the tree and tie a red ribbon to it,” Carvajal said. “We will be offering red ribbons to those that are interested in making a wish and then we are going to tie them to the tree down by the waterfront.”
Carvajal hopes that this fundraiser will help spread light and love throughout the community and will help to lift people’s spirits during this time when many are struggling.
“We do know that many people are suffering,” Carvajal said. “This [fundraiser] comes from the heart and it really is to lift others up and allow for them to celebrate. The goal is for it to be inspirational and to show a sign of hope and for good things.”
Carvajal noted that they wanted this particular fundraiser to be something that made Port Washington a more beautiful place while providing the community with a place to take photos and share with others on social media.
Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton also sent out a press release to the community encouraging residents to contribute to the fundraiser.
“Through their innovative fundraiser, the Port Washington Community Chest is spreading love and light by assisting local restaurant owners and deserving local families,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “I am hopeful that we can all come together to ring in the Year of the Ox with a tremendous show of support for our neighbors and small business owners at a time when it is needed the most.”
At the time of publication, the fundraiser had raised more than $23,000 in less than a week. Their goal is to raise $40,000 so that each of the 400 families can receive a $100 gift certificate to eat out at a Port Washington restaurant.
“We want the families to be able to get out and enjoy themselves within the community and have a nice meal—even if it’s just takeout,” Carvajal said. “We want them to be able to have a nice experience.”
Caravajal, Laurence and Livingston wanted to give a special thanks to those that were willing to help with the fundraiser, including Win Kinney, the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District board for the use of Sunset Park, the Community Chest of Port Washington as well as several students from Schreiber High School including Chloe Carvajal, Shanata Huang, Tyler Huang, Sam Johnson, Meiling Laurence, Ian Laurence, Sydney Livingston, Andy Zhang and Zilin Zhang.
The organizers hope this fundraiser will become an annual event in Port Washington. Caravajal hopes that other communities on Long Island may consider holding their own Lunar New Year/Valentine’s Day fundraisers next year.
“We would love for some other communities around Long Island to join in and potentially participate,” Caravajal said. “Maybe next year other communities will also have special displays up as well.”
The fundraiser will continue for the entire month of February. Donations are tax deductible and can be made directly to the Community Chest with “For Light and Love” in the subject line: 382 Main St., Port Washington, NY 11050 or visit @oneportwashington on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/donate/510219649949988/
100 percent of donations go to local restaurants and vulnerable families in PW towards the Give Light and Love Fundraiser Managed by the Community Chest of Port Washington
Everyone in the Long Island Community is invited to take part:
Make your FREE Wish for Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day and the PW Light and Love Crew will inscribe it on a red ribbon and tie it to the new Port Washington Wishing Tree!
We hope the good karma of your acts of love through this fun promotion will make your wishes come true!
Thank you to London Jewelers for donating a generous $500 Gift Coin Raffle Prize for anyone who donates to the Wishing Tree promotion.
Fill out the form below to make your wish: https://forms.gle/fF6wGhgZbhmV7F6t8
For those who just want to donate, visit: http://bit.ly/PWWishingTree