Charity begins at home

November 15, 2012 By Paula Katinas and Marc Hibsher Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn community helps with Sandy
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Take that, Sandy!

The horrific hurricane left massive damage in its wake, but the storm couldn’t defeat the community-minded spirit of Bay Ridge residents and civic leaders, who have dedicated themselves to helping the victims rebuild their lives.

Point, and Staten Island, Bay Ridgeites and their neighbors in Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow New Yorkers.

Bay Ridge has a diverse arts community and members of that community have offered their services to help raise money for the relief effort.

On Nov. 11, brooklynONE Theater and Film, the performance troupe co-founded by Anthony Marino and the late Bay Ridge eagle columnist Tom Kane, held a benefit.

Whether it be conducting food and clothing drives, holding fundraisers, or organizing caravans of trucks to travel to hard-hit areas like Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Breezy concert “Seasons of Love” and donat- ed the proceeds to the Brooklyn Community Recovery Fund, a pro- gram established by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura.

“It was our pleasure to host the benefit event. We raised over $3,000 toward the Brooklyn Community Foundation Recovery Fund, and collected a huge pile of supplies and food to be distributed,” Marino said. The concert, which featured Broadway show tunes sung by brooklynONE vocalists, also starred well known Bay Ridge musician Frankie Marra.

Karen Tadross, executive produc- er of Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Productions, is one of the forces behind Bay Ridge Cares Kitchen, an effort in which she and other artists, like musician Justin Brannan, and well known chef Alison Robicelli, cook hot meals for delivery to residents in hurricane-ravaged areas.

Bay Ridge Cares issued a statement thanking everyone who made donations. “Thank you to everyone for your support! We can still use food donations or gift cards to use at places like Costco. We continue to need LARGE quantities of food items, as we’re feeding 400 people for lunch, 400 for dinner. Cases of canned beans, bags of lentils/split peas, quinoa, brown rice, olive oil, canola oil, canned chicken and tuna, olives, capers, penne, crushed toma- toes are all great items to donates,” the statement read.

The group asked that people bring tems to St. Mary’s church (81st Street and Ridge Blvd — use the stairs located on 81st Street) between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday-Saturday. In another development, it was announced that from Friday 11/16 to Sunday 11/18 100 percent of every sale of Intelligentsia Coffee sold at A.L.C. At will go directly to aid the people of Bay Ridge Cares Kitchen — Serving Meals That Heal so that they can continue to feed those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Come out and help us help those who need it most. The store’s address is 8613 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, New York 11209.

Brannan, who had been raising funds for the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, announced that he is temporarily redirecting his efforts toward the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

Brannan had been selling T-shirts emblazoned with the lyrics to one of his songs on a website. He is also organizing a fundraiser to be held on Wednesday, Nov 21 at The Corner Kitchen and Bar, 6725 Fifth Ave., starting at 7:30 p.m.

All proceeds will be donated to the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation’s special “Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.” The requested donation is $25, which will get you you open bar and unlimited food, branan said, who worked with Liam McCabe to organize the event.

Local schools are offering help to victims. Students from Visitation Academy, a Catholic girls school on Ridge Boulevard, learned that several of their classmates living in Breezy Point had lost their homes to Sandy. The students and their families agreed to take in the homeless families, according to a source at the school.

At Fontbonne Hall Academy, a Catholic high school for girls on Shore Road, students are making Thanksgiving baskets for girls whose homes were damaged in the storm.

Churches in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst took special collections in their Sunday masses on Nov. 4 to raise funds for the victims. The churches also served as drop off sites or donations of canned food, clothing, toiletries, blankets, and other supplies to be donated to the victims.

The Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of Saint Finbar Catholic Church, said his parish collected 11 truckloads of supplies and made several trips to hurricane zones. “It was truly a team effort and a page in our history that we can look back on and be proud that we responded to the needs of our neigh- bors,” he told his parishioners. He said the parish would now concentrate on raising funds for the vic- tims. Local leaders also conducted food and clothing drives. 

The 68th Precinct Community Council gathered food and clothing for victims. “We have received a lot of requests ask- ing how people can help the victims. Right now, various items of clothing and supplies are needed,” said Community Council President Ilene Sacco.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, which covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, said the board held a “food pantry and toiletry drive” for victims.

“Additionally, we have spoken to Tom Neve from Reaching Out Community Services, who has been working with Coney Island and Rockaway food pantries that were flooded out. He is accepting food and cash donations which can also be brought to our district office at 8119 Fifth Ave.,” said Beckmann.

Bay Ridge’s business community has opened its heart to the victims. The 19th Annual Pioneers of Third Avenue Awards dinner sponsored by the Merchants of Third Avenue on Nov. 5 was dedicated to the victims. Guests donated and dropped off canned food items at Café Remy, the venue for the Pioneer event.

At the dinner, Zoe Koutsoupakis, vice president of Marathon Bank of New York, announced that the bank was making a $2,500 donation to the Merchants’s effort.

The Wicked Monk, which recently moved from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue, held a blood drive on Nov. 12.

Civic organizations are getting involved in a big way. Camille Orrichio Loccisano, founder of the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, a group that helps families of children suffering with cancer, announced that the organization is expanding its mission. The foundation is looking to help families of children with cancer who have been hit by Hurricane Sandy, Orricho Loccisano said.

The foundation is name for Francesco Loccisano, the son of Orrichio Loccisano, who died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 17.

Elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R- Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island), state Sen. Marty 

Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) vol- unteered their district offices as drop-off sites for donations. Grimm’s office is located at 7308 13th Ave. Golden’s office is at 7408 Fifth Ave. You can find Gentile’s office at 8703 Third Ave.

During the Nov. 3-4 weekend, Golden visited the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge, where he consulted with Col. Eluyn Hines, the fort’s commander, on emergency procedures.

Soldiers from the fort have paid several visits to hurricane-ravaged communities to help with the cleanup and recovery effort, according to a fort spokeswoman.

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, whose Coney Island home was severely damaged in the superstorm, has been dedicating most of his time to helping other victims in his community to recover.

He is asking that Bay Ridge residents donate to the victims of Hurricane Sandy by shipping items to him at 9412 Wogan Terrace, Brooklyn, NY 11209. Brook-Krasny said his staff will make sure all items are organized and delivered to the needed areas in the 46th Assembly District, specifically Sea Gate and Coney Island.

The assemblyman is directing residents to a registry where they can find items hurricane-stricken families need. Residents are asked to think of this registry as a guide and the assemblyman’s chief of staff, Kate Cucco at [email protected].

Restaurant owners are pitching in by donating cooked food to residents who are without electricity and gas in their homes.

Jason McDermott and Jim Whiffin, co-owners of the Pour House, a bar on Third Avenue, are spearheading a relief effort out of their place.

Robert Long, owner of the Yellowhook Grill, a Third Avenue bar-restaurant, is allowing his eatery to be used as a drop-off site for those donating supplies.

Assemblywoman Nicole Mallitokis (R-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) personally thanked the owners of one Bay Ridge eatery, Something Greek, for donating gyros, spinach pies, and soup for the residents and volunteers at a cleanup project the lawmaker organized in New Dorp, Staten Island, on Nov. 4.

Coney Island sustained devastating damage as a result of Sandy’s horrific winds and storm surge, officials said. Councilman Domenic Recchia, Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) is among the elected officials working on an effort to get emer- gency supplies to residents there.

Recchia was one of the organizers off the Children’s Relief Festival, a fun-filled event held on Nov. 12 at MCU Park on Surf Avenue, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Kids got free hot dogs and enjoyed magicians, costumed characters, got their faces painted, and received free school supplies.

The parking lot of MCU Park is also an emergency station where residents can receive supplies and get information from rep- resentatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies.

Recchia said anyone interested in donating to the relief effort should contact him at [email protected]. Volunteers are also needed to help distribute the supplies in the stricken communities.

In another effort to assist victims, the owners of Sunrise Senior Living, a senior citizen apartment building in Sheepshead Bay, announced that they would provide emergency housing to displaced seniors for up to 60 days.

The owners of Sunrise Senior Living have also made available a Hurricane Information Line (866-385-0768) for families to call if they are unable to reach their loved ones for updates.

The effort to help victims isn’t over. There are several upcoming fundraising events in Bay Ridge and in other communities.

The Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fun Run, an event designed to raise funds for residents of Breezy Point and the Rockaways, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Prospect Park at 10 a.m. Participants will meet up at Farrells Pub at 215 Prospect Park West.

Frankie Marra is hosting a concert, Bay Ridge Music Cares, on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Salty Dog bar, 7509 Third Ave., from noon to 8 p.m. “We’ve having a lot of great bands,” Marra said.

Lutheran Elementary School in Bay Ridge is holding “Sugar Rush For Relief,” a bake sale, on Wedneday, Nov. 21, at the school, 440 Ovington Ave., from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Rhapsody Players, a talented singing group led by John Heffernan, is performing a benefit concert, “Bring Them Home,” on Saturday, Dec. 1, at St. John’s Episcopal Church Hall, 461 99th St., at 8 p.m.

Saint Patrick’s School has seen an increase in its enrollment due to the hurricane, as the school has taken in 50 youngsters from Breezy Point and Gerritsen Beach whose homes were destroyed by Sandy, according to Anne Strafaci, director of development for Saint Patrick Church.

The school administration has agreed to not charge the families of these students tuition for the remainder of this semester.

“We’re doing our best to make them feel comfortable and loved. We have counselors in to help them,” Strafaci said.

When one little boy told a teacher that he missed his book about whales, the teacher wen to a book store after school to buy him the book, Strafaci said.

Administrators are asking for donations of gift cards to give to the families so that they could buy clothing and supplies.

The Rev. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Mary, Queen of Heaven Church in Old Mill Basin, is holding a special Mass of Thanksgiving and a dinner for hurricane victims on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 6 p.m. 

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