The beginning of November marks a time of year when the Astoria community works together even more than usual to help others in need as Thanksgiving and Christmastime come around.
One Astoria-based charity, Maria’s Love Foundation, has been working with New York Martial Arts Academy to collect canned goods and other essentials to send to Island Harvest, a food bank on Long Island.
The donation boxes will be held at all four of New York Martial Arts Academy’s locations, including one right on Broadway and Crescent Street, as well as others in Little Neck, Williamsburg and Glen Cove. The charity and martial arts school often collaborate on many of their efforts, and students of the school as well as members in the community are welcome to stop by and donate to ensure that no one goes hungry.
“With everything going on this past year and a half, I think it’s more important than ever for everyone to get together and try to help others,” said Antri Orfanos, the founder of Maria’s Love Foundation. “A food drive is something most people can get involved with because even just a can of food is so helpful to a family in need.”
Throughout the middle of October until Nov. 22, members of the community can get donate non-perishable goods and baby essentials, among other items.
Individuals can donate food at New York Martial Arts Academy in Astoria, located at 25-06 Broadway. To find a location near you, visit nymaa.com.
Orfanos has been regularly involved in giving to others throughout her life. She became especially passionate about helping families dealing with financial burdens due to serious illness when her mother, Maria, who the charity is named after, passed away from cancer. She founded her 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help others facing the same struggles that she and her family personally experienced.
Even though the organization is directed toward helping families pay medical bills, it finds other ways to help those in need in what ever way they can. Following the food drive, the organization will also have a toy drive in December.
Because all of the nonprofit’s fundraiser events had to be canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is more eager than ever to continue host events and get everyone together to help others.
“We are so excited to get back to our usual events,” Orfanos said. “After the new year we’re looking forward to having our first event since the pandemic. What makes me most excited for starting events again is being able to help more and more families. During the pandemic, thankfully we were able to continue to help families from St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital, but we hope to be able to do more again soon.”