Private gifts benefit those hurt by shutdown
While the Philipstown Town Board’s discussion of the COVID-19 crisis has frequently been somber — infections and deaths, canceled events, economic malaise — when it convened on May 7 via Zoom, there was a brighter note.
Supervisor Richard Shea reported that, in addition to an initial gift from an anonymous resident of $100,000 to provide food and other necessities to Highlands residents in need, three other donors have since given $10,000, $50,000 and $70,000.
The town government has used the funds to purchase grocery store and pharmacy gift cards from local businesses, as well as food or other necessities that have been delivered by Town Board members and other volunteers.
Town Board Member Judy Farrell said nearly 90 people have stepped up to help, picking up prescriptions or shopping for those sidelined by stay-home orders. (See philipstown.com to volunteer.)
Where to Donate
Putnam COVID Response
Community Cares Putnam
Mutual Aid Beacon
The outreach has extended to Beacon, Putnam Valley, Carmel and Newburgh, Shea said. On Tuesday (May 12), he told The Current that he hoped to make a delivery in Peekskill this week, as well.
In Newburgh, Shea said, he has been collaborating with a local program that provides meals. “These people are working seven days a week to make sure no one goes hungry,” he said. In Putnam Valley, where the food bank closed, he delivered $10,000 worth of ShopRite grocery cards, eliciting gratitude to Philipstown from Supervisor Sam Oliverio.
“It’s a tough time” and residents are anxious, Shea said. “They already don’t have a job, don’t have money. If you don’t have money for food, there’s nothing more stressful.”
He said that as of Tuesday the town had distributed more than $130,000 in grocery store vouchers and meals.
“We’re so fortunate we have that sort of generosity in this town, for people to step up and give really large donations,” Shea said. “This is a wealthy county. There are other towns where it could be happening. But here people step up and do it. It’s amazing.”