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Irma, Harvey collection drive held by Long Island Boy Scouts

Steve Kopezna, scout master of Boy Scout Troop

Steve Kopezna, scout master of Boy Scout Troop 438, is leading a collection drive for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He is seen at the American Legion Post 1146 in Bohemia on September 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Even though Hurricanes Irma and Harvey struck more than a thousand miles away, Steven Kopezna felt the impact close to home in Bohemia.

Kopezna, 57, a scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 438 in Bohemia, has family members in West Palm Beach, Fla., who were spared by Irma, but his friend, Gary Johnson, was in Houston when Harvey hit and lost three cars in the storm.

“His house was elevated, so at least he didn’t get water in the house like in the last storm, but . . . it’s pretty devastating,” Kopezna said.

Now he and volunteers from his scout troop are working to help storm victims by collecting supplies through a hurricane relief effort.

“We want to help other people out,” said Kopezna. “That’s what scouting is all about.”

On Saturday, the troop collected supplies such as bottled water, ready-to-eat food, cleaning supplies, pantry items, personal hygiene items, diapers and pet food at the American Legion Post 1146 on 826 Hubal Street in Bohemia. The donation drive will continue 10 a.m. Sunday and will extend through next week.

People trickled in throughout the day with donations. One man from a local fire department handed off a case of water to Kopezna’s son, Jason Kopezna, 15, a Life Scout going for his Eagle Scout badge.

“You’ve got to give back,” Jason said, adding that helping the community was very important to him.

Donations collected by the scout troop will be sent to Island Harvest food bank distribution center in Hauppauge, which will send the supplies to Florida and Texas for distribution.

Despite getting fewer donations than expected Friday and early Saturday, Steven Kopezna said he was optimistic word would get out and they would be able to get more people to help.

“I believe in giving,” Kopezna said, “and we’re going to do the best we can.”

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