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Islanders, Local Fans Team Up For Sandy Relief Drive

The New York Islanders asked local residents to step up and support their neighbors affected by Hurricane Sandy, and Long Islanders delivered in a big way Monday, Nov. 12 at Nassau Coliseum.

More than 2,000 people stopped by the Islanders’ home ice to donate clothing, nonperishable food items and money to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims in the Long Island area. The American Red Cross and Island Harvest were stationed in the Coliseum lobby, accepting contributions from anyone generous enough to help. To thank those who came out to support the effort, the Islanders hosted free public skating sessions with team coaches and staff from 2 to 8 p.m., along with free skate rentals for participants and a variety of games set up around the edges of the rink.

In addition to caring neighbors who came out to support the charitable cause, families affected by the hurricane came to the Coliseum in search of a much-needed break from their personal recovery efforts. Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano, who spent several hour-long sessions interacting with attendees on the ice, said the atmosphere around the rink was positive, a good sign given the unfortunate circumstances many people have faced since the storm.

“It’s great any time that our organization can do something like this,” Capuano said. “It’s a relief for the people affected. A lot of them have been through so much, and for them to get away from the recovery efforts that they’ve made, to get out here and socialize and skate around, it’s a good feeling. You can see it in their eyes.”

Islanders Assistant Coach and Senior Advisor to the General Manager Doug Weight was also on the ice with fans. The year-round Long Islander was impressed with the way the local community has banded together to help those in need.

“Days like today show that people in all corners of the United States are strong people, and they come together in times like this,” Weight said. “This is a major part of a lot of people’s lives that we see every day. We’re among friends and family here, and it’s been a great turnout.”

Weight added that the clothing and food items should go a long way toward making those most affected by the hurricane feel at home again, especially as the weather gets colder on Long Island.

“Something small like this can bring a lot of smiles, and hopefully a lot of warmth and food and other important things to these people while they go through this hard time,” Weight said. “It’s all relative – we lost a lot of trees and we lost our power for nine or 10 days, but so many people got it so much worse.”

Many of the donated items will go to Island Harvest, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization, to aid the people who need food and clothing the most. The volunteers from Island Harvest found themselves overwhelmed once the Coliseum doors opened at 2 p.m. and people filed in to donate. One of those volunteers, Ira Adler, was overwhelmed by the support of the Long Island community.

“This is unbelievable,” Adler said. “The folks who came today and participated gave so much food and clothing. It’s going to go a long way for Hurricane relief and for everyday use.”

Adler also said that because of the approaching holiday season, this would normally be a busy time for local charities anyway. Due to the widespread devastation caused by the storm, Monday’s donations are especially valuable.

“Normally we’d be doing food drives with the supermarkets, but now we’re focusing more on hurricane relief,” Adler said. “A lot of the items that would have gone to the holiday donations are now going to hurricane relief because the demand is so much greater.”

As Long Island and much of the tri-state area continues to rebuild, Weight described the uplifting mood of the event and what he thought it meant in terms of the next step for Long Islanders.

“There’s a lot of areas that were decimated,” Weight said. “It’s sad, but we’ll get through it and come together. They say adversity makes you stronger. We’ve had some adverse conditions here. Hopefully everybody gets their lives back to normal.”

News

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.

Some students returning to school the first day might see a new face on the bus: Hicksville’s new interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso.

“Every year on the first day of school I ride one of the buses. To see the face of a kindergartener on that first ride just reminds you of why you’re in the field,” he says.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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
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