Begin the holidays with a generous heart


’Tis the season of holiday lights and holy nights, of children’s smiling faces, giddy gift-opening, half-price sales and the festive if frenetic bustle of store-to-store shopping. It’s all about Bethlehem and bounty, family and food, peace and parties.

Yet, 13 months after Sandy wrecked houses and hearts on the South Shore, hundreds of our neighbors are still homeless, hungry and despairing.

At a Vision Long Island disaster-planning workshop two weeks ago, grown men wept as they told their personal stories, and those of others who remain displaced, depressed and frustrated at the Gordian knots of red tape with which their efforts to recover are tied. There remains a diaspora of far-flung Sandy victims — families with children — who anticipated this Hanukkah and Christmas season with dread.

As the fortunate among us — those whom Sandy did not rob of homes and jobs and bank accounts, or are not beset by life’s other misfortunes — celebrate the holidays, let’s also remember the needy, and give what we can to organizations that exist to help the hardest hit.

And remember, too, that there were thousands of hungry and desperate people living in our communities long before the storm. They are no less needy now.

Businesses in some areas are also still affected by Sandy. You can help by “shopping small” this season, meaning patronizing your local downtown stores and restaurants and even heading to Long Beach, East Rockaway, Island Park, Oceanside, Freeport and other still-recovering areas to shop and dine. Help boost those communities’ spirits — and revenues.

Be generous this holiday season with those who need your giving spirit the most.

Organizations that welcome your help

Island Harvest

Go to islandharvest.org and click on How to Help to see the many ways you can lend a hand to your neighbors, from making an online gift to donating food or supplies to offering your time or services. Or you can call the main office, at (516) 294-8528, and ask how you can help.

Red Cross of Long Island

Call (516) 747-3500 to learn how you can volunteer or donate funds or services, or visit redcross.org/ny/mineola and click on Volunteer or Ways to Donate. There is a Get Help – Contact Us link on the website as well.

Salvation Army

Donations of new toys would be appreciated. Consider joining the Bell Ringers at The Salvation Army Greater New York Division’s Red Kettles

throughout the county. Contact The Salvation Army at the following locations:

• Westbury (516) 338-7265

• Freeport (516) 378-4557

• Hempstead (516) 485-4900