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Bellmore resident raises $2,500 for Hempstead INN

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Bellmore resident Linda Goldstein picked up a new, charitable pandemic hobby last August: crafting personalized beaded mask chains.

Inspired by the mask mandate, Goldstein said she started creating them to relax and pass the time. But she never anticipated the activity would raise thousands of dollars for her favorite nonprofit.

“Fortunately, through friends and family, the word spread,” Goldstein, a retired New York City special education teacher, said.

An 11-year volunteer at the Mary Brennan Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead, Goldstein has managed to raise more than $2,500 for the group from her jewelry sales. Goldstein, who regularly volunteers on holidays at INN events, said proceeds are used to purchase snacks to put in the hundreds of bagged lunches that are distributed to those in need.

“I’m there every Monday and I’m using what I bought to stock the bags – it’s a great feeling,” Goldstein said.

The chains, at $20 per piece, can be decorated with specific gems or beads in various colors. Most of the pieces Goldstein produces are personalized with the wearer’s name. For Goldstein, a standard mask chain takes about 30 minutes to construct.

The process is fulfilling, Goldstein said, especially knowing that food insecurity has only worsened. She said she’s observed a spike in the number of food insecure individuals amid the pandemic.

“We had people from all over who were so food insecure that they had nothing,” Goldstein said.

While the INN was closed for most of last year, outdoor booths offered bagged lunches to community members in need. Every month, the nonprofit also offered curbside drive-up food bank. Goldstein resumed her regular indoor service in September, she said, but the INN is still currently closed to guests. 

But the process has not been without its mishaps: Goldstein said she recently placed a $800 food order through Amazon which was lost or stolen, since it was delivered and left outside of the establishment when the business was closed.

Since then, Goldstein has had the pantry items, including fruit cups, granola bars, crackers and other non-perishables delivered to her home.

Founded in 1983 as a soup kitchen, the INN offers a series of programs to help hungry and homeless Long Islanders, through soup kitchens, emergency shelters, a long-term housing program and a free clothing boutique and resource center.

“I feel like I’m making a little difference in our community,” Goldstein said.

To place a jewelry order, contact Goldstein with a request at linnieg28@yahoo.com.