The inside of the Angels of Long Island community outreach and non-profit thrift shop in Patchogue has been transformed into a storage area filled with cases, bags and shelves of food that will be available this week for grab-and-go pickup.
Usually filled with clothing, furniture and accessories for purchase, the Angels knew that they needed to help community members who can’t afford to eat during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when they opened their doors for food and other grocery donations.
“I think as a community we can get through this,” said Debbie Loesch, founder of the nonprofit. “It’s terrible what’s going on out there… but there are good people out there, too.”
She said that over the last few weeks donations of different grocery items have poured in, including non-perishable foods, soaps, baby products and animal food.
The Angels dedicated their time to packing bags with these items and setting up a drive-by pickup location in their parking lot for those who cannot afford a trip to the supermarket — no questions asked. Last week they hosted their first pickup and were wiped cleaned within 30 minutes.
Starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, cars can line up at the store, located at 350 East Main Street in Patchogue. Loesch asks those in need to pull up by the bagel deli and wait on line where a volunteer will provide one bag outside each car — no exceptions. Bags are first come first serve, while supplies last.
“We’d appreciate for your safety and the safety of our volunteers that you wear a mask,” she said.
There will be two separate stations, one for baby needs including diapers, formula and wipes, and another pet food station, for people who need help feeding their animals. There will also be one line for walk-ups, helping people who do not have a car.
Loesch is also using her donations
to help local hospital workers. Part of her surplus is being packed up and sent
to several Long Island hospitals to help healthcare workers on the frontline
get their groceries.
Stony Brook University Hospital will be receiving packages from the Angels and will set up a faux grocery store, allowing nurses and doctors grab what they need after work to go home.
“That’s what this organization is about,” she said. “People helping people.”
And although they have been working tirelessly to help the community, Loesch is asking for help, too. The Angels of Long Island say since the organization is volunteer-based, it cannot apply for the government PPP loans.
“With our headquarters and nonprofit thrift store closed, we cannot make any money to pay back a small business loan,” said Patricia Peterson, a board member with the Angels of Long Island.
The Angels are asking for donations to put towards their overhead, so they can keep their location open to the public and resume their shop when social distancing restrictions are lifted.
“We are still fundraising, working at home, providing food, such as grab-and-go events and distributing goods to our other partners, so they can distribute to folks in need,” she added. “The Angels of Long Island represent hope. Although we were forced to shut down at our nonprofit thrift store and headquarters, we will be a beacon of light too many when we reopen.”
The Angels of Long Island’s donations at its headquarters in Patchogue (credit: Julianne Mosher)