Mineola resident Jane Lapin loves volunteering. It’s a calling she passed down to her children and feels Mineola-based hunger relief organization Island Harvest is the epitome of helping those in need. Volunteering for Island Harvest, Lapin says, is “a gift in itself.”
“We’ve been volunteering with Island Harvest for a while,” she said. “I enjoy doing the food drives, food blitzes and what not. [Island Harvest] is hands on. They’re in Mineola and I can literally see the good work that was going on.”
Island Harvest is a food bank that collects food from national and local sources and distributes it to non-profit organizations across Long Island and directly to people in need. They also provide support and services, such as cooking demonstrations and providing nutrition information, to those in need.
Island Harvest president Randi Shubin Dresner says that volunteers like Lapin are an essential part of the organization’s mission.
“Volunteers are an extension of our staff. The only way we could get into the community as deeply as we do is because of the support of our volunteers,” Shubin Dresner said.
In Westbury, resident Iris Saltzer has delivered food to group homes, and collected money for Island Harvest at the school she taught at. She’s gotten more involved again as of this past summer, and has been able to use her people skills to raise awareness for the cause.
Saltzer’s helped sell raffle tickets at the Scottish Games at Old Westbury Gardens, worked at the mobile food pantry, has done public speaking events to recruit student volunteers and volunteers at the Island Harvest office.
“It makes me feel good that you’re not only donating money, but time where it’s really needed in all these different ways,” says Saltzer. “
Shubin Dresner says that in any given week, there are 300 to 400 volunteers working with Island Harvest. In 2013, they logged 70,000 hours of service. And volunteers are able to help in a variety of ways, using their specific skill sets.
“Many of our volunteers help pick up and deliver food, there are many others who help with their professional skills like graphic design, marketing, legal talents. We have all sorts of different tasks for the skills we have,” Shubin Dresner said.
Island Harvest is always looking for volunteers. If you’d like to get involved or find out more information, check out www.islandharvest.org.