When the Oyster Bay Rotary Club looked for a way to help the community facing the COVID-19 pandemic, they chose “People Loving People” because of the nonprofit’s community outreach. People Loving People (PLP) runs a food pantry in Oyster Bay, which allows businesses and families to donate to those in need.
“We presented a $1,800 check to the People’s pantry on behalf of our Oyster Bay Rotary club,” Rotary President Senator Carl Marcellino said. The PLP co-directors, Donna Romano Galgano of Oyster Bay, Gina Kang of Port Washington and Valerie Monroy of Commack, met while working together at a food pantry in Manhasset, run by the Shelter Rock Church. They first opened their Oyster Bay food pantry in November 2019 at the TOB Community Center.
“We originally had a group of seniors and a group of low-income OB residents coming to our pantry weekly,” Galgano said. The group learned of the need from the Oyster Bay Life Enrichment Center and the Youth and Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay and East Norwich. On Friday mornings, between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., donations arrive from members of the community and merchants.
“We regularly get about 15 to 20 families donating that day and also, another ten to 12 families on Wednesdays,” Galgano said.
The recipients line up at the OBHS parking lot, and at 11 a.m., about seven cars at a time are allowed to turn into the municipal lot off Main Street. As the cars pull into the lot, the east side of the Oyster Bay Community Center looks like a one-aisle supermarket. Tables filled with produce line the sidewalk, loaded with foodstuffs organized by tables offering: bread, pies, cookies, vegetables, fruit, meat and toiletries.
“That includes non-perishable items like peanut butter, jelly, cereal, canned veggies, canned fruit, and items like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes,” Galgano said. “We have weekly donations from Youngs Farm, Christina’s Epicure, East Norwich Bagel, Holiday Farms in Glen Head, Leonetti Bakery and R/S Meats in Huntington as well weekly donations from LI Cares and Island Harvest. Other local organizations have been helping too, like the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts and a local bike riding club.”
“Donna’s an amazing person for having gotten this together with all the details involved,” Judy Wasilchuk, OB Rotary treasurer said. “To be honest we give all the glory to God for connecting all the dots and making it all work out each week just perfectly.”
Due to the strain COVID-19 has put on many Long Islanders, the need for the program has drastically increased. Prior to the pandemic, the pantry served approximately 50 clients a week
“Now our biggest number was 250, going down more recently to 224,” Galgano said. “In total, we reach about 140 clients from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich area, another 40 from Glen Cove, and the rest from Syosset, Hicksville and Bayville. When COVID-19 hit, we found many more people reaching out to us via email, phone and our Facebook page. Each week we also post our food distribution on the OB Facebook Parents page, and on the Bayville, Locust Valley and Glen Cove sites, to try to reach and assist as many people as we can.”
PLP is nonprofit, supported by many locally, including Shelter Rock Church. Donations made out to People Loving People can mailed to: PLP, 22 The Boulevard, Bayville 11709. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 516-945-9738.