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Spreading ‘a little extra love'

Drive Out Hunger to hold food drive in West Hempstead

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With the hope of spreading some Valentine’s Day love, Molly Miskiewicz, of West Hempstead, will host a food drive called “Long Island-tines Day” on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. The event, hosted by Miskiewicz’s group Drive Out Hunger, will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead and LifeLine Restoration Ministries Church in West Babylon.

“With everything going, on between Covid-19 and the social and political unrest, I definitely feel like the world could use a little extra love these days,” Miskiewicz said. “We just want to do whatever we can to give back.”

A nonprofit founded by Miskiewicz last June, Drive Out Hunger is a food donation pickup service that works directly with a number of local food banks, pantries and shelters to provide food and nutrition to those in need. Miskiewicz, 25, a social work consultant at the Baldwin Public Library, started collecting food donations from people across Nassau County last March, when she became aware that many residents were struggling to get food as the pandemic spread.

“We’ve gotten hundreds of people to volunteer with us at this point,” Miskiewicz said. “I feel like this organization has a life and a brain of its own.”

She said that the group had held several large holiday food donation drives, with volunteers making deliveries to those in need. Some residents, such as Malvernite Lori Lang, volunteered to make their homes “drop zones” where people could drop off canned goods and non-perishables. Lang collected more than 500 items for the group’s Thanksgiving food drive, and about 500 for Long Island-tines Day.

“Drive Out Hunger saw the incredible need after Covid-19 hit with our Long Island-area pantries, and they stepped up to truly fill it,” Lang said. “I’m so proud to be a supporter of this amazing not-for-profit by making our house a sort-and-drop zone for Malverne.”

Miskiewicz’s outreach has resulted in collaboration with numerous organizations, most of which of are nonprofit, along with several middle and high school clubs. The growing demand for food is evident, she said, adding, “The number of people experiencing hunger is just startling.”

Her work ethic has rubbed off on some of Drive Out Hunger’s other members, including Kamrynn Irani. “I’m in complete admiration of Molly, because she really gets things done,” said Irani, of New Hyde Park. “It’s been an incredible ride helping out others with this group.”

Irani, 24, a first-year medical student at NYIT who helps collect and organize donations for the group, said he planned to personally donate between $5,000 and $13,000 worth of food, depending on Saturday’s turnout. Irani joined the group when Miskiewicz came across his Instagram page in September and learned about his efforts to support people struggling with food insecurity in New York City.

“I hope that we can get some people that were possibly too afraid to reach out to us in the past,” Irani said, “and that they gained some newfound confidence with the Valentine’s Day vibes that we’re spreading.”

While Saturday’s event is mainly focused on food donations, Miskiewicz is encouraging other groups that have gotten involved to share donations based on their own specialties, such as clothing and basic resources. Her goal, she said, is to unify Long Island for a day.

“I think there’s just been so much division in the last several years,” she said, “so I would really like just one day for us to come together and recognize that we’re all New Yorkers, and that we’re strong. 2020 was rough for everyone, but despite all of that, I would just love to see us come together and spread a little extra happiness and unity.”