The five Sayville High School freshmen, Loghan McNamara, Molly Brady, Courtney Thornton, Ellie Sheehan, Molly Brady and Fallon Santoro, hauled two hefty green plastic bins of food, filled with items like instant oatmeal, organic milk, canned soups, Pop Tarts and other nonperishables to help fill hungry stomachs. Also practical items, like face masks.
“This is our second location,” explained McNamara in front of the Sayville Library for the students’ Little Free Food Pantry grand opening there last Thursday. They already had one established by the Sayville Chamber of Commerce office and had plans for several more.
COVID may have slugged our way of life, to be sure, but it also unleashed kind, thoughtful efforts from students like these. Also awareness.
“Logan saw a guy laying on the ground at the 7-Eleven,” explained Thornton of the impetus. “He was dehydrated. Molly’s mom [Tara Brady] got him water and we wanted to help.”
“We never realized how much food was needed,” said Sheehan.
They started a GoFundMe account and raised over $3,000.
“One person donated $1,000 right away, then others followed,” added Sheehan.
“We definitely live in a generous community, everyone was willing to give,” said Brady.
They plan to keep the stationery wood pantries stocked; there were also informational pamphlets on the shelves.
“This was brewing for a while with them,” said head of Outreach Services Jonathan Pryer. “We did a Zoom meeting earlier this year to discuss how they came about with the idea, what inspired them. We knew pretty much right away that we wanted to get on board with one of their sites. We felt we could help with food insecurity.”
Pryer pointed out Sayville Library’s proximity to the LIRR train station, Main Street and along the county bus route.
“They’re paying for the wooden boxes and the initial food,” Pryer said of funds the teens raised from the GoFundMe account. “Eventually, the library will handle that.”
The teens’ involvement emphasized a community need, one that the library has already embraced. “We’ve partnered with SUNY Stony Brook School of Social Work to offer a whole menu of services and now have a social work intern here three days a week,” said Pryer of Craig Milch.