Many on Long Island are hungry and hurting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of our region’s vulnerabilities, from health troubles and job loss to hunger and homelessness, and few of us are immune. Enormous deficiencies in our education system have been revealed. And what’s going on behind closed doors as we are stuck at home is disturbing, as advocates worry about domestic violence and child abuse victims who cannot get away from their aggressors.
But we can help. The annual Help-A-Family effort by Newsday Charities is a perfect place to start. Every dollar contributed to Help-A-Family goes to local institutions that need our help, because Newsday pays 100% of administrative costs. So far, Newsday Charities has distributed $646,500 to 26 agencies this year.
That work has become more important as the pandemic has rippled through the region. Since March, a staggering 194,000 Long Islanders have sought emergency food through Long Island Cares, a 46.1% increase from the same period in 2019. Among those programs are children’s food trucks that provide grab-and-go meals, and efforts to coordinate care for veterans and outreach to homeless people — all programs Help-A-Family funds assist.
The pandemic also has forced some of the region’s agencies to rethink how they meet Long Islanders’ needs. The Family Service League, for instance, has tried to offer virtual after-school recreational activities through its Brentwood Community School, a program for high school freshmen meant to help meet their academic needs and provide alternative activities to keep teenagers from making bad choices in their free time.
At The Safe Center LI in Bethpage, meanwhile, advocates have seen the horrors of domestic violence and child abuse, and fear more of it is now going unseen, as victims and their abusers are shut in their homes together. Newsday Charities’ funds help the center’s children’s mental health program, which works with victims of child abuse and children who witnessed domestic violence. It, too, has now gone virtual, even shipping materials for play therapy to individual children.
The needs seem overwhelming. But together we start to feed our neighbors, ease their pain, and make this holiday season a bit brighter for all of us.
To learn more, or to donate, please go to newsdaycharities.org, or call 631-843-3056.
— The editorial board