When Deborah Salant heard that victims of the coronavirus pandemic were being stored in refrigerated trucks in New York City, she reached out to Town of Hempstead officials about donating her family’s two burial plots at Greenfield Cemetery to those who could not afford to bury their loved ones during this pandemic, and encouraged others to do the same. Then, when she heard that half a million Americans have lost their lives from the novel coronavirus, she decided to put an electric candle in her window.
“I just felt that that was the right thing to do,” said Salant, of Franklin Square, explaining that she felt sorry for the thousands of families who were missing family members and friends from their Easter and Passover tables this year, and as Lent represents a time of rebirth, she thought it would be a good time to put a candle out to let those families “know that we care.”
“It’s my way of supporting the families who have lost their loved ones,” Salant said, and soon the idea began to spread.
Her neighbors on Commonwealth Street in Franklin Square started putting their own battery-powered candles in their windows, and Deborah and her husband, Robert, started getting in contact with family and friends in Seattle, San Francisco, Florida, North Carolina and even those in other countries like Holland, France, England and Italy.
They also brought the idea to the board of the Franklin Square Civic Association prior to its March meeting, when Treasurer Frank Culmone said, everyone agreed “it’s something we need to do.” The Civic Association board then sent the idea to their members as well as to Town of Hempstead representatives.
“I said, ‘Great idea, we’re in,” Town Supervisor Donald X. Clavin recalled of receiving the email, and posting it on the town’s social media pages. “People haven’t had a chance to grieve in a traditional way” with the state’s limitation on how many people could attend a funeral, Clavin said.
“We hope all the residents participate in it as well,” Clavin said, “and take some time to remember the half a million plus” who have died during this pandemic.
To do so, Deborah said, residents simply have to take out their battery-powered candles, or borrow one from a neighbor, and place them in their windows for the month of April. They can place the candles in their windows at any time, Culmon said, and, Deborah added, people can keep the candles in their windows for as long as they’d like.
“By the end of the month,” Culmone said, “hopefully we’ll see a lot of candles in the windows.”