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Local Center Collects Food to Help the Hungry

A Wantagh business holds food drive for Hauppauge based Long Island Cares.

As food pantries and other organizations across Long Island thousands of hungry local residents everyday, one business in Wantagh is stepping up to help.

For a second year, on 2050 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh is sponsoring a to assist , which is located in Hauppauge.

Dr. Gina Marino, who started the effort at the Wantagh location, previously donated food to Long Island Cares and thought that this food drive would be a great service to the community, while introducing new people to the center.

“Over the years, before I was in practice, I always donated to [Long Island Cares],” she said. "I know they are a very big organization for Long Island. Their outreach is widespread, so I thought it was a great cause."

Paule Pachter, Executive Director of Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank, said that small food drives done by individual business, including the one at the , are extremely important because they “all add up.” Overall, donations of food from drives are down by about 30 percent from last year, he added.

“In general, food drives represent about 20 percent of all of the food that comes in,” he continued. “Any food drive is helpful, especially during the holiday season. We are very thankful for what the center is doing.”

Patients and community members alike have been dropping off goods at the Wantagh office, Marino said. They have had people collect food in hospitals, schools and smaller offices to donate at the center.

“It has been widespread, which is great,” she said. “We wanted to get the community involved too so they feel like they are contributing to something.”

They accept non-perishable items, including canned goods, canned milk and other similar products. Additionally, they are taking other types of donations, such as blankets and clothing.

Marino said that the last time the center did this food drive two years ago they collected about 800 lbs. of items. This year Marino is hoping to reach at least 1,000 lbs.

In order to thank people for donating to Long Island Cares, Marino is offering gift cards for complimentary services at the center. Some of the services include nutrition counseling, spiritual counseling, massage, acupuncture, reiki and chiropractic. She said that people “think it is great” to get the gift card when donating because it enables them to try out a service they might not have otherwise.

The best part of the food drive, Marino said, is “seeing the boxes of food and knowing that so many people will be able to have nice holiday meals.”

"People only think of people needing food around the holidays,” she said. “You hear everyday how a lot of the food pantries on Long Island need to be stocked because people can’t afford it. Knowing where the food is going and that it will make a lot of people happy is great."

The food drive will be running during the center’s business hours through Saturday, Oct. 29. For additional information, call (516) 221-3500.

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