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KJ Farrell’s provides music, collects clothes for homeless

Curt Arnel, of Merrick, donates clothes for

Curt Arnel, of Merrick, donates clothes for the homeless as KJ Farrell's Bar and Grill hosts its 2nd Annual Music for Mittens and More for the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Bellmore. Credit: Howard Schnapp

With its front door well within view of the Bellmore railroad station, the staff at KJ Farrell’s is used to seeing homeless people near their bar, often in harsh winter weather without proper clothes.

On Saturday, the music venue, bar and grill collected warm winter clothing at the second Music for Mittens and More event. The effort, created and organized by singer-songwriter Carine Ulano-Firestone, 56, of Bellmore, has become a way for the tight-knit local music scene to give back, she said.

“We’re going to provide warmth for them,” Ulano-Firestone said of homeless men, women and children in the area. For six hours on Saturday, about 25 bands played as bags full of mittens, boots, socks, coats, hats and gloves filled up at the bar’s front door. Those clothes and proceeds from a raffle go to the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

Last year, the effort yielded 120 coats and 240 pairs of mittens and gloves. Ulano-Firestone filled her car and four others with bags stuffed with warm clothes that went to the Coalition, a nonprofit that helps connect people with homeless services across Long Island.

After playing a set with friends, Ulano-Firestone addressed the several dozen people who had gathered. She cited figures from the coalition showing 4,000 homeless people on Long Island on any given night, and half of those are children. Many are veterans, she added.

“It kills me that anybody should be homeless,” she said. “It really upsets me that there are veterans who are coming back from serving our country who end up being homeless.”

KJ Farrell’s manager Rose Morriello said she and the staff were thrilled to host the Music for Mittens event.

“We’re so close to the railroad, and you do see a lot of transients, and you know that people are homeless and they’re cold,” Morriello said. “It’s a no-brainer to give back.”

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