St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Islip Rotary are feeding the hungry while supporting the struggling local restaurants.
Called the South Shore Takeout Project, the two groups are conducting a fundraiser of sorts throughout the South Shore communities, asking people to purchase restaurant gift cards so people can purchase a meal for their families. St. Mark’s will then donate the cards to God’s Provisions, an affiliate of Long Island Cares, an organization that supplies church food pantries, senior communities and shelters throughout Suffolk County. The program is expected to run through the end of March.
“The pandemic has wreaked havoc with our economy,” said St. Mark’s rector, the very reverend Richard E. Simpson.” People have lost jobs and can barely feed their families. A restaurant gift card will either be a much-needed meal or a treat,” he said, adding that February 17 is also Ash Wednesday and pointed to the Bible story of “the feeding of 5000.”
He continued: Restaurant business is down to about 30% of their usual income and relies heavily on take-out or curbside pick-up for revenue. Many are either closed or due to close.”
Said organizer Irene Ross “We’d like the gift cards to be substantial enough to buy full meals; some restaurants have family or catering packages that could feed an entire family for one night (with maybe even some leftovers for another day’s lunch or dinner).
She continued: We know everyone is experiencing some level of financial distress with the pandemic, so why not pool your resources with others, whether friends, neighbors, co-workers, local businesses, clubs, etc? If many people chip in, that becomes a big number that can feed an entire family.”
The Takeout Project is the brainstorm of Dr. Barbara Bolen of Northport who, over the holidays, was thinking about two at-risk groups: the hungry and struggling restaurants. A Northport restaurant was offering a family meal ($60 to feed four) and she asked the restaurant owner if she knew of a family she could donate a meal to. This led to the idea to involve local food pantries and encourage others to follow suit, and she and her project partner, Carol Crowley, brought in $4000 in just a little over a month.
When Barbara indicated that she was hoping other organizations would join the endeavor, St. Mark’s Episcopal & Islip Rotary jumped at it and will specifically target the South Shore, including Great South Bay, Oakdale, Patchogue. Sayville, Holbrook, Hauppauge and more.
Islip Rotary will be joining St. Mark’s with this project. Their motto is, “Service Above Self.” Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million business and other leaders, neighbors and friends. The organization that takes action with such programs as the Rotarian-based organization Gift of Life that provides cardiac medical care for children who would otherwise not receive treatment.
There are three ways to get your gift cards to St. Mark’s who will donate them. One is by mail: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 754 Montauk Highway, Islip, NY 11751. Another is for people to also bring them to the church office Monday-Friday from 9:00 to 12:30. (The building with the triple doors at the end of the driveway, just off St. Mark’s Lane.) The third is to call organizer Irene Ross at 631-572-8057 to make arrangements.