Long Island Cares is more than a food pantry for Wyandanch natives and Marine veterans Fred and his father. It's their lifeline in a world that often forgets the sacrifices they made for their country. Every Tuesday, they visit Long Island Cares in Lindenhurst, where they are welcomed with open arms for Military Appreciation Tuesdays, a program dedicated to feeding veterans and their families each week at all Long Island Cares First-Stop Food Pantries.
Fred vividly remembers their first visit. Uncertainty loomed as they stepped through the doors, unsure of what to expect. However, it didn't take long to realize the value of their visit. "Anything that I get from here helps me save money; it helps me pay my bills," Fred revealed, gratitude in his voice.
Fred's been a lifelong saver who learned to make do with less during his time in the Marines. When he shops at a grocery store, he only buys groceries on sale, leading to him purchasing different foods than he used to in simpler times.
Similarly, Fred finds solace in the variety of products available at Long Island Cares. There are familiar goods paired with cultural foods that Fred is eager to check out. "It's always a different experience here," he mused. "It’s a great opportunity to try new things and explore other cultures' foods just as I do in the grocery store."
However, it hasn’t been easy for Fred and his father. His dad's health challenges have confined him at home, leaving Fred to shoulder the burden. Yet, he remains steadfast, acknowledging the sacrifices his father made for their family. "I don't live with my dad, but I do most of the cooking for him. It's my way of giving back for all he's done for us," Fred shared, his devotion evident.
"Long Island Cares has become our lifeboat. If I save a dollar at Long Island Cares, that's a dollar saved for other needs in my life," he explained. Through this support, he gathers the strength to navigate life's challenges, genuinely embodying the Marine motto of "Improvise, adapt, overcome."
Yet, it's not just the food selection that makes Long Island Cares special. Fred cherishes the connections he has made, embracing the social aspect of his pantry visits. He always greets the staff, volunteers, and fellow veterans with warmth and gratitude. "We all need each other in this world," he asserted with conviction. "No man is an island."
In this ever-changing world, Fred finds comfort in knowing he is not alone. Military Appreciation Tuesdays and the resources offered by Long Island Cares give him the confidence to keep moving forward to face whatever challenges lie ahead. For Fred and his father, Long Island Cares and Military Appreciation Tuesdays are more than services— they are a beacon of hope, reminding them that their service will never be forgotten.