With the holiday season in full force, soup kitchens and other foundations that lend a helpful hand are now busier than ever. However there’s one that sticks out in Long Islander’s minds when it comes to the most well known soup kitchen in town, known as The INN.
The INN is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that is dedicated to serving hungry and homeless long islanders throughout the year. They pride themselves on being “a working model of how to unite the community to overcome the challenge of hunger and homelessness, here on Long Island.”
Throughout the holiday season, special programs are provided including Thanksgiving and Christmas day meals as well as a turkey and side dish distribution. This year, The INN served more than 200 guests on Thanksgiving and gave turkeys and food to more than 500 families. For the month of December, they have a special night for families at the shelter where parents can pick toys and gifts for their children and get them wrapped.
“Since the holidays can be stressful and difficult for many, especially those who are going through rough times, we are fortunate to have a strong support system of volunteers and donors who make this time a little more bearable for our neighbors who could use a little extra help,” said Communications and PR Manager Dana Lopez.
Although they’ve currently filled all of their volunteer opportunities for Christmas day, other days are available for individual, group and student volunteers (closed on Jan. 1 and 18).
Originally founded in 1983, The INN began as a single soup kitchen run by a small group of volunteers working at a church in Hempstead. After realizing the astounding amount of hungry people in the area, they decided to make a difference by opening the first kitchen in Hempstead.
As the success of the soup kitchen grew, more people began to show interest in helping. The INN expanded its operations, opening in Long Beach, Freeport and Central Islip. Today there are total of 14 soup kitchens in 21 different locations across Long Island, feeding 5,000 people a week.
The INN also provides much more than just food. After feeding the hungry, volunteers began to notice that many of these people were homeless as well. The response to the problem was opening up its first emergency shelter in 1984. Now more than 30 years later, services continue with soup kitchens, emergency shelters, a long-term housing program and veterans housing.
The INN welcomes clothing donations throughout the year. However, for the time being, they will only be accepting winter outerwear. Regular clothing donations will resume on Jan. 11. For a complete list of accepted winter donations, visit www.the-inn.org/how-to-help/donategoods.
The INN also offers a handful of other ways to help including adopting a family, sponsoring a meal or making a charitable gift. Follow The INN’s Facebook feed, and get involved in #MakeADifferenceMonday. Also check out their Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel. For any other questions regarding The INN and how to get involved, call 516-486-8506 or visit its website at www.the-inn.org.