Long Island Helping Its Own

Every month, Darlene from Bay Shore visits her local food pantry and picks up the supplies she needs for her four adolescent children, including books to read to her youngest daughter, who is 10. Both Darlene and her husband lost their jobs with the United Steel Workers Union nearly two years ago, and now rely on the daily essentials provided by Long Island Cares, the region’s largest food bank.

Long Islanders like Darlene aren’t hard to find, especially during the holiday season, when money can be especially tight. For those who already struggle to put together meals and provide for their families, this time of year can be even more stressful than normal. Some of these Long Islanders could be people you know, or someone in your community.

With so many demands this time of year, it can be easy to get bogged down in our quests to find the perfect gifts or fight crowds for the best deals. But there is an easy and rewarding way to really spread cheer — by donating to causes that serve those who will struggle to make the holidays bright for their own families.

The annual Help-A-Family drive by Newsday Charities is a Long Island holiday tradition and a simple way to participate with organizations doing very good work here. What’s more, 100 percent of your donation will go to those in need, because Newsday pays the administrative fees.

Aside from Long Island Cares, other organizations that will benefit directly include The INN, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stamping out hunger and homelessness on Long Island, and The EAC Network, which provides services to stop child abuse and provide treatment for those suffering from mental health and substance abuse. These groups then put your money to work in the communities that need it the most. Last year, Newsday Charities granted more than $728,000 to 21 nonprofit organizations.

As we try to make the holiday season bright and full of meaning, please consider giving what you can to the Help-A-Family drive. Think about engaging your children in a conversation about how rewarding it is to care about others. Or perhaps you can agree among family members or office mates to combine your efforts to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. To learn more or to donate, visit newsdaycharities.org or call 631-843-3056.

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