The holidays are a time to spread love and cheer, especially to those who are struggling just to get by. Each year, Options for Community Living, Inc., a Long Island nonprofit, asks the community to support the individuals and families served through its programs by providing holiday assistance. Thanks to an overwhelming response from supporters, this year’s holiday assistance programs served more families in need than ever before.
Options’ provides supportive housing and case management services for more than 2,400 vulnerable Long Islanders annually. The need for support has been made even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Job loss and food insecurity have placed additional stress on many families, especially those with low incomes, chronic health conditions, and limited resources.
“Many of our clients simply can’t afford to celebrate the holidays with gifts,” said Jessica Klein, Development Specialist. “So, we do our best to help spread some joy.”
This year 73 families with more than 150 family members received toys, games, bicycles, clothing, new bedding, grocery gift cards, and many other holiday gifts through Options’ Adopt-a-Family Program. An additional eighty children received gifts through Options’ Annual Toy Drive. Participants include individual donors, religious organizations, and many Long Island businesses.
“We start our outreach to past participants in September,” continued Klein. “Some people have been “adopting our families” for years. Thankfully, people rarely opt-out.”
This year a big boost came from Bethpage Federal Credit Union as its employees adopted forty-three of the seventy-three families in need of assistance. Other supporters included Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP; Kedrion Biopharma Inc.; Cerini and Associates LLP; Investors Bank; Five Towns Kiwanis; Branch Real Estate Group; Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP; Long Island Strong; St. Joseph’s Church of Kings Park; St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church of Smithtown; Idle Hour Elementary School (Connetquot Central School District); Stony Brook University Academic and Transfer Advising Services, The Office of Academic Engagement, The Office of Academic Success and Tutoring Center, The Office of Undergraduate Education, and Occupational Therapy Master’s Program and many individuals.
“If you ever need to be reminded of the good in people and the generosity of Long Islanders, just peek into our administrative office during the holidays,” said Options Chief Executive Officer, Yolanda Robano-Gross, MHA, LMSW. “The wrapped gifts, bicycles, and toys—it’s incredible and our families are so thankful! So are we!”