The coronavirus has forced many non-essential businesses across New York to shut their doors, but for one small fundraising company in Melville, it was an opportunity to give back to the people battling the disease every day.
Miss Chocolate Fundraising works to give schools, daycare centers, religious organizations and various other groups throughout the country the resources to raise funds in the tri-state area. They’ve helped thousands of schools reach their fundraising goals.
“Since all of my customers were closed, I wanted to figure out a way to help,” Larry Hirschheimer, one of Miss Chocolate Fundraising’s owners, said. “My trucks were sitting with nowhere to go, my warehouse had products with no orders to fill and I had a lot of unexpected free time.”
That’s when Miss Chocolate Fundraising partnered with YumEarth, an organic candy company, to figure out a way to give back to hospital workers.
For Ron Kaiser, one of the owners of Miss Chocolate Fundraising, that mission was deeply personal.
“My son is an ICU doctor in one of New York City’s 100-percent coronavirus hospitals,” Kaiser said. “More than ever in my life I felt a strong feeling to be able to do something to show my appreciation for people who are going above and beyond.”
YumEarth donated roughly 1,000 cases of assorted organic snacks and Miss Chocolate Fundraising stepped up to donate 4,000 candy bars to every hospital they traveled to.
In one week, the company made deliveries to 11 hospitals including Stony Brook Hospital, SUNY Downstate, North Shore University Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medicine and Mather Hospital.
“I’m sure it’s not enough snacks for all of the workers, but every little bit I would imagine helps,” Hirschheimer said.
The two companies plan on expanding their efforts to hospitals in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Maureen Eng has been a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center for 40 years, and is used to working in the elective surgery unit. Now, her job involves helping COVID-19 patients during her 12-hour shift.
“We now have to wear the N95 masks which are very stifling,” Eng said. “You can’t take it off if you’re in an open unit. I can’t just grab a glass of water,.”
Eng said it’s not always easy working long shifts on your feet with all of the protective equipment on, but she’s thankful for the support the staff is receiving from the people giving back to the hospitals.
“After 12 hours in a hospital, you kind of feel like there is no outside world,” she said. “The donations remind you that there’s an outside world.”
Vincenza Genna, who works with patient and family centered care at North Shore University Hospital, is in awe of the amount of people reaching out and trying to help.
“It’s amazing how the community can come together and support the staff,” Genna said.
Despite the struggles inside the hospitals, Hirschheimer and Kaiser said each worker receiving the donations had a contagious positive spirit that they could feel after each delivery.
“It was truly incredible how welcoming these hospital workers were,” Hirschheimer said. “It’s something I didn’t expect, but these workers are so special and deserve to be thanked for all that they do.”
Kaiser said he’s grateful that he can reach out in any way possible and help those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It truly makes me happy to be able to do a little something that for one moment may make someone happy and appreciated for what they are doing,” Kaiser said.
Nobody was able to hug or shake hands with the staff on the deliveries, but Amanda Suleman, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Center assures everyone that there is a lot of appreciation throughout the entire hospital.
“What you bring are smiles to our faces,” Suleman said. “You can’t see it under our masks, but our eyes show it.”