The Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry at 72nd Avenue and Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills held a PPE giveaway with local elected officials on Tuesday afternoon, January 27. The location, a partnership of the Chazaq Organization and Met Council on Jewish Poverty, is distinguished as a center for vital communal resources. “With COVID concerns still a serious threat across the nation, the Chazaq staff undertook a comprehensive drive to distribute an array of personal protective equipment to our neighbors in Queens,” stated Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of the organization. “The involvement of our governmental affair bureau and the partnership of our representatives in lawmaking, underscores the need for our community members to take precautions when amongst others.”

Council Member James F. Gennaro was represented by Adam Suionov, his Jewish liaison and a longtime resident of Kew Gardens Hills. “Unfortunately, two years later, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Distribution events like these play a crucial role in keeping our communities safe. I encourage all to remain vigilant, mask up, and get vaccinated!” said Gennaro to the Queens Jewish Link.

Aviv Simantov operates the pantry and, together with his team of volunteers, they have made a noticeable difference in the community, more exactly in the lives of families in need. “The pandemic has definitely taken its toll on New York, more specifically the Queens community. I am proud to say that everyone here at Chazaq is working effortlessly to help our fellow citizens in any way we can,” recognized Simantov. “We are all about giving back to the very community that gave us so much in previous years. Organizing the PPE distribution was the least that we could do, and we look forward to holding more events like this in the near future.”

Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi’s constituents from Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, and other areas frequent the pantry. “As we strive to stay safe against this winter’s COVID surge, I’m grateful to work alongside my fellow Queens elected officials to bring free rapid tests, masks, sanitizers, and cleaning products to the community,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.

Congress Member Grace Meng was represented by her Jewish liaison Rabbi Daniel Pollack. “PPE remains crucial as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” mentioned the Congresswoman. “We must continue to do all we can to stay safe.”

State Senator Joesph P. Addabbo, Jr. attended in person. “As we all try to combat the coronavirus and its variants by working together, it is vitally important to take the temporary precautions, such as continuing to mask up, wash our hands, and stay socially distanced while indoors. Providing free home test kits, masks, and hand sanitizer will go a long way in protecting our communities,” stated the Senator.

For the event, Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar of District 38 was represented by her Director of Policy and Development Elliot Heisler. “I was honored to once again distribute PPE as Queens battles the latest COVID-19 wave,” affirmed the Assemblywoman of Glendale, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, and Woodhaven.

Israel Peskowitz, Director of Government Affairs for Chazaq, spent much time coordinating the details of the distribution. “I am grateful to the group of elected officials who helped pass out PPE this past Thursday. It is their efforts in arranging for the various items that allows us to play our part in assisting the neighborhood in staying safe during these trying times.”

The Eastern Queens neighborhoods of Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Holliswood, amongst others, fall within the Community Board 8 parameters. These neighborhoods regularly benefit from the Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry programming. “Throughout the pandemic, community-based organizations have stepped up to keep our neighbors fed, housed, and healthy,” explained Council Member Linda Lee. “Their work is invaluable and I’m proud to stand with my elected colleagues to support them.” Lee, who assumed office in the beginning of January, has always been a steadfast supporter of Israel and the Jewish community. “Today and every day, the steadfast generosity of the Jewish community is part of what makes Queens the world’s greatest borough,” concluded the District 23 Council representative.

By Shabsie Saphirstein