Thanks to a Not Your Average Joe

Thanks to a Not Your Average Joe

Joseph Liantonio’s smile says it all as he unloads donations into the OLG Pantry at the end of his drive on Sunday

It’s always an encouragement to the human spirit of giving when we can witness first hand, a cooperative effort, which serves to help so many, less than fortunate individuals within our community and surrounding areas.

This past weekend, in the parking lot of he Howard Plaza Shopping Center, Joseph Liantonio brought his heart, a huge moving van from his families business, Flatbush Moving Van Company and a crew of friends, family and co-workers to collect food for a drive to fill the Our Lady of Grace Food Pantry for the upcoming holiday season.

For the last 5 years, Liantonio and his company have been volunteering their time and resources to Move For Hunger, a 501(c) 3 organization that works with moving companies who volunteer to collect food from families that are relocating. They pick up unopened, non-perishable items and deliver the items to local food pantries.

This year Liantonio decided to take it one step further and organize a drive of his own, this time to benefit the Our Lady of Grace Pantry in Howard Beach.

Joe learned about the pantry from his boss at Century 21 Amiable, Ann Marie Chirichigno, where he is a real estate agent. Chirichigno introduced Joe to some neighborhood residents who have been working with the pantry for years and the plans were sealed. Century 21 Amiable as well as the Flatbush Moving Van Company were both instrumental according to Joe who says that both of his bosses, one of who is dad John, gave him all the support and resources he needed to pull it off, including time away from both jobs.

The Almonte Family, who owns and operates The Food Emporium at the shopping center joined in by allowing all donations collected through The Forum from local business and individuals, to be purchased at cost and threw in a sizeable donation of their own.

At the end of the day, with all the food weighed, boxed and readied for delivery to the pantry Liantonio and the crew of volunteers who braved the cold out in the parking lot, had amassed close to 4,000 lbs of donations.

World of Hunger measures the number of meals donated by assigning a weight of 1.2 lb. for each meal making the total meals collected on Sunday roughly 3,300 meals.

As amazing as we find this one-day collection to be, Liantonio told The Forum that the real astonishment was found in the pantry workers there to accept it when he and his crew delivered the food on Sunday afternoon

“They were ecstatic…actually moved to the brink of tears. That’s the reaction that makes us know we’ve really helped people and that is the goal,” Liantonio said.

Pantry workers said there was so much food donated that the drive may just get the pantry not only through Thanksgiving, but through Christmas as well

We actually couldn’t have said it better Joe. And if more people would just take a minute to find out what it feels like to help, they would feel much better about the world and themselves.  If you’re not one of those people who knows the feeling, we’ll borrow an old Alka-Seltzer ad slogan to drive home our point– “Try it, you’ll like it.”

Liantonio is already planning a drive for next year, determined to raise enough in food donations to support more than one area pantry. We’ll be there with him. You should too!


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