The Wizard of Oz, one of the world’s best loved films of the Golden Era, has been credited with one of the greatest quotes of the film. It was uttered by The Wizard as he spoke to the Tin Man about the merits of having a heart. It goes a little like this: “Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are known as phila-, phila- – good deed-doers.” When one encounters a “good deed doer”, one cannot help but feel uplifted.
A group of “good deed doers” gathered on the grounds of Bethpage Federal Credit Union at 899 South Oyster Bay Rd. in Bethpage on Nov. 20 for the 12th Annual Bethpage Turkey Drive. The event, which ran from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a mild November Friday, benefited local charity Island Harvest.
Countless cars lined up along the entrance to the “contactless” drop off lanes. Folks drove up to their respective lines, where volunteers took packages and turkeys from donors. As a thank-you, volunteers from Bethpage Federal Credit Union offered a goodie bag, complete with a personal-sized hand sanitizer and a pen from the bank. Volunteers were cheery and expressed gratitude to community members who offered donations.
Island Harvest President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner had a grin from ear-to-ear as she surveyed the situation. It was 11:30 a.m. and one tractor trailer was filled with turkeys and trimmings. A second tractor trailer was almost completely full, and volunteers began to load a third. “This is even better than last year,” Randi said with a smile. “Because of COVID, we have a lot more families in need. The economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need among Long Islanders seeking food assistance, many for the first time. We are incredibly grateful to Bethpage Federal Credit Union for their support and generosity throughout the year and look forward to another successful Bethpage Turkey Drive to help food-insecure families enjoy a more hopeful holiday season.” Island Harvest has assisted more than 400,000 families since March, supplementing approximately 9.4 million meals. Since the program launched twelve years ago, more than 33,000 turkeys and more than 130,000 pounds of food have been donated by generous Long Islanders to offer food-insecure neighbors the opportunity to enjoy a holiday meal.
At 3 p.m., there were 2,925 turkeys donated along with more than 24,000 pounds of food. Corporate donations were significant this year, including a sizable donation from PSEGLI. Monetary donations help Island Harvest to distribute food to those in need. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Island Harvest has distributed more than 11 million pounds of food. This is a 47 percent increase over the same period last year. COVID-19’s impact on Long Island’s hungry has been unprecedented this year. Approximately 70,000 individuals receive food assistance from Island Harvest’s Food Bank network each week.
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. They seek to preserve dignity and respect. Its mission is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution, enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs, job training, and direct services targeted towards children, seniors, veterans, and other folks at risk for food insecurity. More than 94 percent of expended resources go directly to programs and services that support the more than now 400,000 Long Islanders who face hunger daily. Island Harvest Food Bank is also a member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. Island Harvest is among just 9 percent of the organizations rated by Charity Navigator to merit the four-star designation.
Visit Island Harvest’s website at www.islandharvest.org if you would like to help hungry Long Islanders. There are many ways to be a good-deed doer. Randi Shubin Dresner and the people who volunteered with her on Nov. 20 do not require a testimonial to value their worth. It can be felt in the warmth of the community members who poured out in droves to assist those in need. That, my friends, is all the proof anyone needs to prove love in action and hearts that are well-loved by others.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.