Neighbors find new ways to beat extreme winter weather


As heavy gusts of wind and snow raged outside Erin Schmidt’s home during last Thursday’s winter storm, she combed through her family’s belongings in search of unwanted toys, clothes and household items.

The 34-year old East Meadow resident has planned, for weeks, to contribute to Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit that donates items and offers support services to those who have been effected by acts of terrorism or traumatic loss. The winter storm, Schmidt said, presented her with the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling.

“A snowy day is the perfect day to clean house!” she posted on the East Meadow Moms group on Facebook the morning of the storm, in which she detailed her cause and urged others to follow suit.

So far this winter, Nassau County has been struck with record low temperatures and a blizzard that brought roughly eight inches of snow. Residents like Schmidt gave their advice on how to brave the harsh temperature through community action.

“One of the most important things is to make sure you check on your neighbors, especially those who are a little bit older,” said Ross Schiller, the president of the East Meadow Kiwanis Club an active member of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce.

Each year, Schiller and the Kiwanis collect donations for the veteran’s clinic at the Nassau University Medical Center, garnering a total of $10,000 last year. In such harsh weather, he said, “It’s important to lend others a hand.”

While temperatures have risen since last week, residents urged each other to be proactive in the case of future stints of cold weather and snow. Frank Camarano, the president of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, said that some people fall into the habit of waiting until an event like a blizzard to ensure that their appliances are working.

“It’s important to stay ahead of the game and prepare so that it’s not zero out and your boiler’s broken,” he said.

Provision is also important when it comes to health and wellness, said Michael Lee, a doctor at American Family Care Urgent Care in East Meadow. Certain viruses and some bacteria thrive in cold weather, he added, making it imperative to safeguard one’s wellness even more in the winter. Furthermore, when people are inside more often than not, they are surrounded by other potentially sick people.

Schmidt made sure to stay safe from winter’s bite with her son Brian Strouse, a Kindergarten student at Barnum Woods Elementary School in East Meadow, and her daughter Alaina Strouse, who attends nursery school at Merrick Woods in Merrick.

When asked what inspired her to donate to Tuesday’s Children in particular, Schmidt said that the cause was not personal. “I’ve never been directly impacted by terrorism or tragic loss,” she said, “but knowing how terrible I feel when these things happen, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and suffering of those who have been impacted.”

Schmidt’s father, however, used to serve with the New York City Fire Department and retired in 1999, two years before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that led to the creation of Tuesday’s Children.

“I used to always go back and forth with the ‘what if’s,’ ” Schmidt noted. “I don’t want to think that way but it’s hard not to when we live in a world where the ‘what if’s’ become reality for so many people . . . I know donating my things won’t change what’s already happened, but if I could make something a little easier for someone who’s suffered such a tremendous, senseless, unexpected loss, then it’s the least that I could do.”