Dec. 6, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The annual Long Island City food drive delivered a record total of more than 5,000 pounds of food and supplies to three food pantries on Saturday.
In a massive community effort, the annual Thanksgiving food drive hosted by the Hunters Point Civic Association and the Astoria-LIC Lions Club collected 5,200 pounds of food, shampoo, diapers, baby supplies throughout the month of November, said organizer Brent O’Leary.
The supplies were divided between Hour Children Food Pantry and St Rafael’s Food Pantry in LIC, and St Teresa’s Food Pantry in Woodside. The food was delivered on Saturday.
“The need is critical, and as the cost of living in New York City keeps going up, more people rely on the food pantries,” O’Leary said of the importance of the drive.
Since he started the food drive in 2014, O’Leary has seen it grow exponentially. He began the drive when he read about a food crisis in the local pantries, and decided to take action. In the first year, the drive collected about 3,000 pounds of food, and this year’s food drive nearly doubled that amount to 5,200 pounds.
O’Leary said that with the huge growth in the program, he has had to be more strategic about planning the food drive, and has worked to get many local groups involved.
The local Girl Scout troupe helped pack boxes on Thursday evening, and on Saturday members of the Woodside Sunnyside Runners Club ran to Saint Mary’s Church to help load boxes in to the trucks.
Officers from the 108th Precinct helped pick up the boxes from all around the city, and many local groups donated food.
“The whole community really came together to help out,” O’Leary said.
Though the logistics are becoming more complicated, O’Leary said that he plans on continuing the effort as long as there is a need. “As long as it keeps getting bigger, we’ll keep figuring out how to do it,” he said.