Stock photo: Adobe

The Riverhead Business Improvement District is sponsoring a new double-impact fundraiser aimed to assist hospital workers fighting on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis, and to support the work and livelihood of downtown restaurants that are struggling to stay open amid the nationwide ‘shelter-in place’ order. The plan: buy gift cards from eateries in downtown Riverhead, then distribute the cards to employees at Peconic Bay Medical Center, Northwell Health. The gift card donation will allow all essential staff working all shifts and departments at the hospital campus to obtain take out meals for their families from participating Riverhead restaurants.

The effort is being organized by Riverhead BID president Steven Shauger and executive director Kristy Verity and PBMC director of development Maureen Brady-Curzio and special gift officer Darrien Garay.

“We are all in this together. This program is an opportunity for our community to make a positive impact on both healthcare workers and downtown restaurants that are being heavily impacted by this pandemic,” Shauger said.

“Things will eventually get better, and donations to this cause will support our heroic healthcare workers and also help the restaurants we all know and love to weather the storm and be there when the dust settles,” he said.

Public donations are being recruited to fund the meal program. 100% of donations go directly to local restaurants feeding frontline workers. Volunteers take no administrative fee and the crowd-funding program has been set up directly through Northwell Health, eliminating processing fees normally collected by for-profit online donation companies. Advertising and promotion fees are sponsored by the Riverhead BID.

With every $5,000 raised, the BID will purchase one hundred $50.00 gift cards from various downtown eateries. The gift cards will then be distributed by the medical center through a raffle system – every active employee of the hospital will be included in the raffle, from ICU to medical records, environmental services etc. Gift cards will be mailed home to employees.

“The heroic work being done by the staff at the Medical Center would not be possible without the generous support from our community,” PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said. “We are thankful for all those who participate in programs like this to support our healthcare heroes.”

Amplifying the fundraiser, the Richard and Mary Morrison Foundation has generously contributed the first $5,000 to the program. The foundation also wants to continue to emotionally support essential workers through social media. Participants can go to Facebook, create a thank you video for an essential worker, then use #essentiallove & #thankyoufrontline and tag the Richard & Mary Morrison Foundation. The foundation will then donate a $1 to the gift card program for every video up to $5,000. For further instructions please visit the Richard & Mary Morrison Foundation Facebook page.

“In this historic crisis in America it is imperative to honor, applaud and show our deep appreciation to our front lines heroes and angels. Respectfully we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Richard and Mary Morrison said in a statement.

The family and staff of Tuthill-Mangano funeral home (East Main Street, Riverhead) have donated another $1,000 toward the campaign.

“The Coronavirus has not only impacted everyone socially and financially, it has also displayed the heart and soul of our town,” Verity said. ”We see people caring, sharing, volunteering, donating and supporting. At a time when so much is unknown and so much has been stripped away, humanity has peaked and Riverhead is more united and wholesome than ever.”

Gift cards will be purchased from the following eateries located in the downtown Riverhead BID District: The Preston House, Jerry and the Mermaid, Michelangelo, Goldberg’s Bagels, Taqueria Cielito Lindo, Shadees Jamaican Takeout, Sunny’s Diner & Grill, Diggers Ales n’ Eats, Dark Horse Restaurant, Cucina 25, River Walk Bar & Grille, Perabell Food Bar, Tweeds Restaurant & Buffalo Bar, Cliff’s Rendezvous, Star Confectionary, Taco Bout It.

Tax-deductible donations may be made online.

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