Sydney Inger is such an advocate for feeding her community that the 12-year-old made certain the leftover food from her future bat mitzvah is donated to a local pantry.
Since 2008, Inger has volunteered with Island Harvest, a Long Island-based hunger relief organization, collecting nonperishables at her school to bring to local food pantries.
“I kept seeing Red Cross commercials to raise donations for children in Africa and I thought, ‘Why not do the same here?’” said Inger, of East Meadow. “When you see everyone’s faces light up, it reminds me of how thankful I am to have a warm meal and warm clothes.”
Right now, her goal is to help victims of superstorm Sandy. On Nov. 9, Inger created a Facebook event, asking locals to donate clothing, personal items and food to give to families in need.
As of the following Tuesday, 75 boxes were taking up space in the family’s living room and dining room table.
Sydney’s mother, Stephanie, recently reconnected with an old classmate of hers — Jonathan Green, who was raised in East Meadow, but now lives in Columbia, Md. After the effort piqued his mother’s interest, a majority of the clothing and food came from her neighbors in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., which rallied behind Sydney, sending boxes of donations within days.
Sydney, who attends Woodland Middle School, partnered with her brother Joshua, 9, and friend Gia Buscemi, collecting clothing, bedding, blankets, shoes, scarfs, water and nonperishables to round out the donations.
“I didn’t expect we’d collect all of this,” said Gia, 11, of Massapequa Park. “It feels good to help other people who need it more than I do.”
Stephanie Inger said she is proud of her kids and grateful for the boxes from Tennessee, comprised of water bottles, cereal, pasta, diapers and other items.
“It just shows that if you raise them right, they’ll do the right thing,” she said. “They’re very selfless children.”
Jaci Bernstein, Sydney’s grandmother, says Sydney has already collected more than 4,000 pounds of food since she started volunteering with Island Harvest four years ago and is proud that she keeps it up.
“This is what Sydney does,” Bernstein said. “The East Meadow community really came together for this. We get home each night and see a new box of donations on our steps.”
Monetary donations will go directly to Island Harvest. Although the family was expecting the organization to pick up the donations this week to distribute to Long Beach and other locations, Inger said she will continue collecting throughout the year.
“Hunger has no expiration date,” Sydney said. “I’ll continue this drive in school.”
Above: From left, Sydney Inger, 12, of East Meadow, her friend Gia Buscemi, 11, of Massapequa Park, and brother Joshua Inger, 9, started a clothing and food drive in East Meadow to supply Long Islanders with items they may have lost due to superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 13, 2012)