Red tape forces cancellation of food giveaway

By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Posted 9/23/20

Saint Mary’s Giving Day was canceled for September and until further notice.

On the third Friday of every month community members in need lined up for free food and other items at Head …

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Red tape forces cancellation of food giveaway

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Saint Mary’s Giving Day was canceled for September and until further notice.

On the third Friday of every month community members in need lined up for free food and other items at Head Start in Newburgh.

Despite the church being closed for several years, organizers were able to still use the building – until now.

Director Marietta Allen explained that although they used the Head Start of Orange County building for ten years, the woman running the space said that Saint Mary’s Giving Day could no longer happen in that location.

The unnamed women claimed that it was not possible due to the state’s reopening guidelines for schools not allowing outside entities.

However, Allen quickly found a new location to hold the September Giving Day.

Shortly after, another roadblock came about. The Archdiocese of New York contacted Allen and explained that because they are leaving the site they are no longer able to use the tax exempt number, which is needed to bring in food for the community.

Allen had to shift gears yet again and consider other ways to keep Saint Mary’s Giving Day alive.

She contacted the Archdiocese and asked if they can use the old Saint Mary’s Church building, which is empty, once a month for Giving Day. Having a location with the Parish Ministries would ensure that they can use the tax identification number to order from the food bank.

“It’s a couple yards from the Head Start building so we wouldn’t be leaving the property,” said Allen. “I think it’s a win-win. It makes use for the building and fills an important need for Newburgh. Our volunteers miss the Church so much … they could enjoy the building again.”

At this point, Allen is waiting for the Archdiocese to contact her to see if this option is possible or not. They are hoping to hear back within a couple of weeks.

The monthly Giving Days have donated between ten to 15 tons of food every month to those in need. In the colder months they gather coats, hats and gloves and toys for the holidays. 

For now Allen and the volunteers at Saint Mary’s are sitting tight until they hear what the Archdiocese decides.

“I’ve never seen so many people so sad – I feel terrible,” said Allen. “It was out of left field and it was a perfect storm, one thing on top of another.”

They are hoping to be back up and running for October and that the Archdiocese will approve the proposed plan.

In the meantime Allen is preparing for alternative options like working with other 501(c)(3) nonprofits or filing for one herself, although that could take up to two years.

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