Holiday Care Packages for Our Troops

Founded in 2006 by New Rochelle resident Jennie McFarland and Larchmont’s St. Augustine’s Church, Operation Support Our Troops has grown into a wonderful community effort to bring holiday cheer to the men and women of our armed services stationed overseas. From snacks to video games to frisbees, all donated items will be boxed by Jennie and her team of volunteers and then mailed in care packages just in time for the holidays.

This year’s main event is set for December 4th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. You can drop off items (see this list of suggestions) and/or volunteer to help pack the boxes. Monetary contributions are also welcome to help pay for the boxes and postage — checks are payable to “St. Augustine’s Church” and should be sent to Jennie McFarland, 40 Cherry Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801.

Visit for more information, join their effort on Facebook,or email Jennie at

Bagging Groceries for Charity

Shoprite’s Partners in Caring program raises funds for hundreds of charitable organizations that work to combat hunger and provide nutrition to the needy. To help publicize the program, Shoprite annually invites local “dignitaries” (an uncomfortable word to apply to oneself) to visit a store and bag groceries for customers. I had the pleasure of doing so yesterday morning and am happy to report that all eggs, fruit, and other fragile items survived the experience without apparent harm.

You see me in the center background of this photograph. To my left is Michelle Oliveros of the City’s Youth Bureau. We made a good team!

The Sharing Shelf Seeks Back-to-School Clothing for Children in Need

I have two young sons only a couple of years apart, so hand-me-downs flow constantly from the older to the younger. Even so, Catie and I have always been surprised at how many clothes, shoes, and other items make their way through both our boys and are still perfectly usable, only now too small for anyone in our family. Throwing things like that away is not an option. So what’s the best way to make sure that another child can still use them?

The Sharing Shelf is a program of Family Services of Westchester that collects new and gently used clothing and basic supplies for newborns, infants, and children all the way through age 18. They sort clothing by size, season, and gender, and then distribute packages to children in need through social service agencies, teachers, and religious leaders. In just the past year, the Sharing Shelf has served more than 1,000 children, all at no cost to their families.

Right now, the Sharing Shelf is asking for donations to help meet the large demand for back-to-school clothing. They are looking for new and gently used items — particularly in sizes 4T through YXL (14/16) — like T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweaters; pants and sweatpants; fall jackets and winter coats; sturdy fall and winter shoes, snow boots, and rain boots. Clothing should be clean and free of stains or rips. (For more information about what items they accept, please check this list on their website.)

Additionally, the Sharing Shelf is always looking for volunteers to help sort and package clothing in their warehouse in New Rochelle. They are open most weekdays, and will be open this year on 9/11 from 10am to 1pm for those wishing to join them for the national day of service.

If you are interested in donating clothing or volunteering, please contact Deborah Blatt at or (914) 937-2320 x 148.

Volunteer Center Organizes “Serve and Learn” Event for 9/11

Many Americans choose to honor the anniversary of 9/11 by devoting themselves to a day of volunteer service. It’s a great way to renew a much-needed spirit of unity and shared sacrifice.

This year the Volunteer Center of United Way and Westchester County are organizing a special event aimed at connecting county residents to a wide variety of worthwhile charities and causes. On Friday, September 9 from 2pm to 7pm at the County Center in White Plains, “Serve and Learn: Westchester Remembers 9/11” will enlist volunteers for one-day projects as well as long-term commitments.

There will be on-site volunteer activities available to participants of all ages, including a blood drive, food drive, mural painting, greeting card decoration for soldiers, and more. Representatives from well over 100 Westchester agencies will be present, including many from New Rochelle. I plan to be there myself, and look forward to doing my part.

For more information about the “Serve and Learn” event or to sign up to volunteer, visit the Volunteer Center website or call (914) 948-4452.

The City of New Rochelle has been proud to partner with the Volunteer Center on many occasions and maintains a permanent link on the City website to their volunteer matching system, which helps link volunteers to not-for-profit organizations. You can use that system to find great volunteer opportunities at any time.

New Rochelle Commemorates MLK Day

New Rochelle came together this past weekend with a variety of events and activities commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was privileged to attend annual observances organized by the Coalition for Mutual Respect and the New Rochelle Community Action Program, during which I offered brief remarks.

In addition, I participated in two service projects organized by the Volunteer Center. The first entailed painting a new mural at the Remington Boys and Girls Club (as you can see from the picture, I was entrusted with filling-in some block letters with yellow paint — which is about the limit of my minimal artistic ability). The second took place at the New Rochelle Public Library, where volunteers moved books and dusted shelves.

My thanks to all those who donated time and energy to these efforts.