Picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy will take time. Rebuilding lives, communities, houses and businesses will take determination and endurance.

Despite the losses and the aching feeling of vulnerability in the air, we remain a resilient lot. The outpouring of help to Sandy's victims reminds us of that every day.

But even before the superstorm delivered its devastating blows, we were faced with societal challenges stemming from a prolonged economic slump. Many people -- including our friends, families and neighbors -- are still struggling to find work, to put food on the table, or to provide other basics like a roof over their heads or a warm blanket for their children.

The needs on Long Island are deep, and our social service systems are overburdened, now perhaps more than ever.

We again need your help.

Sunday marked the beginning of the Newsday Charities Help-A-Family campaign, which will raise money for local nonprofits that help feed the hungry, provide educational opportunities, and offer shelter for the homeless and safe places for victims of domestic abuse. Newsday is accepting donations through January. These efforts are distinct from our Sandy relief fund.

Consider your gift an investment in our collective future. And what makes it a really good deal is that donations receive a 50 percent match from the McCormick Foundation. That means every dollar donated translates directly into $1.50 for charitable organizations helping our Long Island neighbors.

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There's no cap on what the foundation will match, and Newsday covers all administration costs. The dollars are spent where they can make a difference.

Since 2000, Help-A-Family has raised more than $10 million and in recent years supported dozens of organizations, such as Island Harvest, Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Long Island, and Catholic Charities, among many others in Nassau and Suffolk counties. These groups provide support -- and very often hope -- to people you may know or see in the neighborhood.

Bethany House of Nassau County received a $15,000 grant. It provides a place for homeless women and their children to stay. It's been around since 1978, but in recent years has gone from providing 17 beds nightly to 85, a 400 percent increase.

It is but one example of the great need and the good work being done on Long Island. These organizations offer an opportunity for people to get back on their feet -- with dignity.

After Sandy, the needs are only going to be greater. If you can help, please do. To learn more about Help-A-Family, or to donate, go to newsday.com/helpafamily, or call 631-843-3056.