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Residents offer items, money for homeless laborers

People are offering coats, sleeping bags, tents, money, even airplane tickets to go back home to the Latino day laborers living in the woods in Huntington Station.

"I think people are demonstrating a sense of outrage and a need to do something," said the Rev. Allan Ramirez, a Latino advocate who is helping the men.

He said he has received calls from nearly three dozen people offering to assist. The callers feel that "if government won't do something, we need to do something ourselves."

He added: "A lot of people have been literally moved to tears seeing how other people have to live."

Freeport resident Hector Vinasco, 45, said he doesn't make much money running a small cleaning business, but he wants to donate a few coats he owns. "It's the only thing I can offer," he said in Spanish. "I understand. I'm a worker, too."

A Northport woman who asked not to be named said she has five grown children and not a lot of money, but she wants to buy an airplane ticket for one tent dweller quoted in a Newsday story saying he just wants to go back to his native Honduras. "I felt very bad for him," she said.

Ramirez said one caller, a native of El Salvador, wants to start a "help a compatriot" program in which people would take one of the men into their homes for a month, help them find work, and provide transportation money for the first couple of weeks on the job.

Another caller from Roosevelt offered a spot in her basement for one of the immigrants. She added it would be best if he is Honduran, since as a native of that country they could both easily share the same food.

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