New York Community Bank, Island Harvest to host vets food drive

New York Community Bank and Island Harvest Food Bank are hosting their annual Veterans Day food drive in support of Operation: HOPE, a program that assists veterans and families of active duty personnel deployed at home and overseas who are in need of food assistance.

This year’s drive will take place on Veterans Day, Saturday Nov. 11, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For the first time, the event will be held at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with food collection taking place on the plaza near the main entrance to the Coliseum.

Those who would like to contribute can enter the parking lot via Hempstead Turnpike. Donations of frozen turkeys, nonperishable food items, personal healthcare items, and supermarket gift cards are needed.

In addition to collections that day, donations will be accepted at all New York Community Bank branches on Long Island during the month of November, and patrons attending events at the Coliseum over the next week can drop off donations there.

Collection bins will be located at several entry points to the Coliseum during the Bob Dylan Concert on Nov. 8, the Long Island Nets game on Nov. 9, and the Maryland vs. Stony Brook game on Nov. 10.

In 2016, the first annual Veterans Day food drive collected more than 300 turkeys and 10,000 pounds of food, all of which were distributed to veterans in Nassau and Suffolk counties in time for the holidays.

The event attracted scores of volunteers from all different parts of the community.

“NYCB was proud that last year’s event was the largest one-day turkey and trimmings drive in Long Island’s history aimed at helping veterans in need.  Now with a more visible, accessible location, thanks to our partners at NYCB LIVE, we expect to significantly exceed last year’s record collection and help even more veterans and service member families than ever before,”  Kelly Leung, Senior vice president of New York Community Bank, said.

A $100,000 grant from NYCB to Island Harvest Food Bank will help sustain the program well beyond the holiday season. Island Harvest Food Bank staff, along with volunteers, many of whom are veterans, deliver food and supplies to the doors of Long Island veterans and their families two days a week throughout the year. 

Using volunteers who have served in the armed forces helps foster a better understanding and provides comfort for those receiving aid since the person coming to their home is someone who can personally relate to the experiences of those veterans who are struggling financially or otherwise.

“Those who have served our nation in combat often face exceptional obstacles readjusting to civilian life.  These challenges may range from severe physical injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder, health issues, or even to finding employment. Families of those serving, as well as those who made the ultimate sacrifice, often have difficulties making ends meet. Some may bear the psychological scars of extended absences or the loss of a loved one,” Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank, said. “The objective of our Operation: HOPE initiative is to help move veterans and their families from uncertainty to stability.”

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