Mid-Island Collision’s annual Fill the Bags charity meal program has taken on a new tone in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
According to owner Robert Jesberger, the program, which has run for more than 20 years, is meant to help fill pantries for Thanksgiving. In the weeks following the hurricane, however, Jesberger says he has noticed many more people in need.
“Between the effects of the storm and the economy, it seems like there is a lot more people needing assistance in the local pantries,” Jesberger said. “The pantries are now empty because of what happened with the storm. We thought we’d be spending about $100,000, but we blew way past that this year.”
Jesberger said that volunteers from all over the tri-state area have been coming to volunteer, filling bags with yams, vegetables, chicken, tuna and other canned meats. Some volunteers, Jesberger said, have had their homes destroyed but they still came and volunteered for the program. He said that men’s and women’s sports teams from Hofstra University helped distribute the food to the local pantries.
Mid-Island Collision has purchased enough food to fill more than 10 tractor-trailers, Jesberger said. The cost has risen beyond $150,000, and Jesberger said the cost could still rise and he won’t know it in full for possibly another week.
“New York supports me and my business,” Jesberger said. “You need to put back into the community and help those who can’t help themselves.”
Jesberger said that Mid-Island collision hasn’t yet seen too much of a change in business since the hurricane hit, though he does expect an influx of customers in need of cars in the coming months.
“We’re not seeing a lot of it yet because everyone is thinking about different things,” Jesberger said. “We’ll probably see it in the spring time and the summer, when people start sorting everything else out.”