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Helping The Hungry

America is known as the land of plenty, but for many Americans, not having enough food is a daily battle. According to recent statistics, one in every six households nationwide is food insecure and almost four percent of Hicksville’s population lives below the poverty line. Hicksville United Methodist Church (HUMC) is seeking to help the needy population of Hicksville and beyond with their food pantry, which has put food on the tables of many local community members.

Since opening in October 2007, the pantry has helped dozens of local community members get back on their feet. People from Hicksville and surrounding areas such as Plainview, Westbury and Levittown can come to the pantry on Friday mornings and get proteins, canned vegetables, pastas, cereals and more, for three days. Anywhere from 24 to 38 people visit each week, and with seasonal workers and day laborers having no work during the winter, food pantry volunteer Kathy Nannini expects that number to rise for the season.

The food pantry has a fair share of homeless clients.  Judy Frankson has been in charge of the pantry since it's inception and estimates that the pantry serves about 12 homeless people on a regular basis and staff go out of their way to help them, setting aside easy open cans or Ensure nutritional drinks.  

When clients come in for the first time, they undergo an interview where food pantry staff will determine if they meet eligibility guidelines (which is based on financial status) and how often they are qualified to come to the pantry.

“Some people have nothing so they come every week. Some people have Social Security and just need a little help so they come twice a month,” says Frankson.

Unlike other food pantries in the area, HUMC will provide food to clients regardless of where they live. But if there’s a food pantry closer to their hometown, staff will suggest they go to that one.

The pantry is “client choice,” which means each person gets to choose what to take, instead of being handed a bag of items. Clients get to choose (based on certain guidelines) foods from shelves labeled with different categories, such as proteins, pastas, canned vegetables, snacks and cereals. As an emergency pantry, clients are able to take enough food to last them three days.  

Some items come from food banks such as Long Island Cares and Island Harvest, while other donations come from church members and local community organizations in the area.

At the beginning of the school year, the pantry was able to provide school supplies and throughout the year, they also give away donated clothes, which Frankson says fly off the hangers. The clothes are a huge benefit for people, as she recalls a young woman who found an interview outfit at the pantry.

“She was able to get the job,” Frankson says. “And she still wears the jacket she got from here.” 

Staff at the pantry are also able to refer clients to invaluable services, such as health care centers and social services. And for some clients, coming to the pantry is the only social interaction they have during the week. 

“Some of the clients have no one to talk to them,” says Frankson. “But they come here and we greet them and talk to them, and they leave here smiling.”

While seeing many of the same faces each week allows staff to establish relationships with clients, Nannini says the true victories are when clients start not coming back.

“When we see people not coming back, it means we’ve helped someone, and they don’t need our services anymore,” she says.

Over the past year she's been volunteering, Nannini's found herself learning a lot from the people she serves each week.

“It’s very rewarding to see these people so thankful for what we give them and to know that you’re truly helping someone,” she said. “And it shows how much we take for granted. These people don’t have the convenience of going to the cabinet and choosing what to eat. And you never know, tomorrow it could be us.”

The pantry is currently gearing up for Thanksgiving, preparing to buy chickens, turkeys and side dishes to feed around 35 families. The pantry will provide needy families a package of a chicken or turkey (they hand out an average of 50 already cooked chickens, and 10 frozen turkeys), instant mix packages for side dishes such as mashed potatoes and stuffing, and a pie.

The food pantry is open on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and HUMC is always looking for donations and volunteers. To find out more information, call 516-931-2626 or visit www.hicksvilleumc.com

News

Local veterans groups and residents gathered at Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park recently to honor brave servicemen and woman, past and present. William M. Gouse Jr. Post 3211 hosted Hicksville’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The ceremonies began with the pledge and national anthem sung by Hicksville High School student Cassie Pursoo, accompanied by trumpeter Conner Hoelzer. Monsignor Thomas Costa from Our Lady of Church in Hicksville gave the invocation.

On Nov. 10, a dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of a beautiful new two-story house in Hicksville. However, while new dwellings are an ordinary occurrence on Long Island, this one was unique and special in a way that very few are.

The house at 77 Thorman Ave. was built in memory of Navy Lieutenant and posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy, a Long Island native who tragically died in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2005. However, this house represents more than just the dedicated service of a man to his country; it represents the beginning of a new life full of hope for a brother-in-arms and his family as well.


Sports

Football was Mike Torrellas’ heart and soul. He also liked a good Turkey Bowl.  

Unfortunately, the Hicksville Crusaders co-founder wasn’t able to witness the program’s inaugural event, which took place Saturday, Nov. 8.

Torrellas passed away suddenly last December due to a blood clot, but the spirit and drive of the man who wore the number 53 and tragically passed at that age still surrounds the Crusaders football program.

The Long Island Fight for Charity will be hosting its 11th annual Charity Boxing Event on Nov. 24 at the Hilton in Melville. Among the 20 volunteers putting up their fists for funds will be Hicksville business owner Mell Goldman, who will be fighting under the nickname “The Kid.”  

Goldman is the President of All Boro Cleaning Services. He stated that he was enticed at the opportunity and wanted to contribute to charity.


Calendar

Fall Drama Production

November 20-22

Blood Drive

November 24

Christmas Holiday Fair

November 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com