In 24 hours Kings Park resident, Christine Spano, planned, organized and mobilized a relief effort that not only benefitted those in her community, but one that will reach out to other devastated communities on Long Island.
Dozens of residents along with local restaurants and businesses, some who only hours ago opened from the storm, pitched in and provided a hot meal and company to locals. Spano had the idea, just hours before the event that residents could bring donations of clothing and food for those in the hardest hit areas of Long Island.
"The response was so fabulous,” said Spano. “I came up with the idea on Saturday to try and have a hot meal for local resident to go to.” All she needed was a place and when she reached out to the VFW Hall, she said they didn’t hesitate. “Al, said yes right away and that’s how we got started,” she said.
Spano and friends, immediately started making calls to local restaurants to ask for donations of food and they obliged. A tray of ziti here, a tray of eggplant Parmesan there, paper goods, sternos, the meals started rolling in. Long Island cake giant Entenmanns’s gave cases of baked goods and cakes.
"It was delightful for neighbors to get together and reconnect and see who needs what kind of help," said Michelle Stein, one of the organizers of the event. "Teenagers served food, sat and chatted with elderly, watched little ones so their parents could have a cup of coffee in peace. It was amazing."
“People came in droves with food, they got warm and they ate,” said Spano. About 150 people came to the hall, some stayed and some just dropped off food and said hello.
Residents also brought donations of non-perishable food and clothing to help those in need. The challenge was, how to get it there.
“We wanted to donate to the south shore, but we needed a truck, with gas, to get it there,” said Spano. That’s when district superintendent, Susan Agruso came in and offered a school bus. A local bus driver was willing to donate his time.
“Susan called and the district offered the bus. The donations are going to St. Jude in Mastic Beach and the food is going to a local pantry,” said Spano.
Spano said the help has snowballed and donations will continue to be accepted.
"This whole event was a simple idea that Christina Spano had on Friday night; who wants to make a couple of trays of baked ziti and feed some of our neighbors with no power. By Saturday afternoon the VFW Hall was on board and within 24 hours it turned into a very special event. I am blown away by the kindness and generous spirit of the people of Kings Park," said Stein.
“The community just came together, it was nothing short of a miracle,” she said, but said she was disappointed in one thing.
“I didn’t say thank you. I should have taken the microphone yesterday and thanked everyone and I didn’t,” she said.
I think you just did Christine.
The VFW Hall is accepting donations. Residents can drop off clothing, non-perishable goods, coats, blankets, batteries and blankets.