Food pantry to hold flea market on November 4

November 1, 2011 Denise Romano
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A local food pantry in dire need of funding just got one of itswishes granted.

Thomas Neve, founder and executive director of Reaching OutCommunity Services, was hoping to hold a flea market in CadmanPlaza, but was denied a permit by the Parks Department. Luckily, aGood Samaritan stepped up and offered a Bay Ridge space to host themarket.

We need to hold something on a consistent basis so we can findfunding, Neve explained. We really need some extra help here. Aweekly or bi-weekly flea market can raise enough for me to pay rentand utilities for the store.

That was understood by Bay Ridge attorney Vincent Romano, whohappened to read a letter from Congressmember Michael Grimm toBrooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey asking him togrant the permit.

As you likely know, Reaching Out Community Services is a trueasset to our community and a vital lifeline for Brooklyn residentsin need, Grimm said in his letter. Allowing them the permits forevents at Cadman Plaza could go a long way in assisting thethousands of low-income families in Brooklyn who rely on servicesprovided by this organization, which is operated by a group ofdedicated, hard-working volunteers.

Romano said he felt compelled to help. I was motivated toassist him in any way I can, he said. I thought this was anavenue to help them in their venture to raise money for hungrypeople in our community.

The flea market is slated be held on Saturday, November 4 at8621 Fifth Avenue – which used to be an old OTB parlor.

It was very noble of him, Neve said, adding that the space isonly temporary; if a renter comes in, the flea market will besquashed. It was very nice of him to help us. I hope to getthrough the holiday season with this.

Romano pointed out that the new challenge is getting foottraffic to the flea market. Instead of spending money on otherstores, they can spend $20 or so at the flea market to feed hungrypeople, he said.

Volunteers will go to the storefront this weekend to prepare.The flea market will have a variety of vendors selling clothes,household stuff and holiday items.

It will be purchasing for a cause, Neve said. All of ourfunds come from the discretionary city council budget. After 19years of doing this, we still are not getting funding fromcorporations and foundations. We are still trying to find ways tosecure funding.

One of the other ways to raise money is a new program justlaunched by Neve called, Gift of Giving, through which people candonate monthly gifts by having them automatically deducted fromtheir bank account or credit card.

We are on an extremely minimal budget and it’s sick that wecan’t find the smallest amount of funding, Neve said. I don’tmind the work and the headaches, but it’s hard when you arespending all your energy with the cause and the mission and thenworrying if we can pay rent this month.

Neve stressed that the food pantry was a necessity, not aluxury. We are never going to end hunger, but we can prevent it,he said. Kids don’t have to go to bed hungry without supper.People shouldn’t have to choose between eating and paying theirelectric bill.

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