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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: A time to give

The major religions of the world proclaim charity as one of the foundations of their beliefs.

In Hebrew, the word for righteousness or justice, is often interchangeable with the concept of charity. St. Paul taught that the three major virtues are faith, hope, and charity, with the greatest being charity. One of the pillars of the Muslim faith is giving to those in need. The Qur’an quotes Mohammed saying, “Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is a charity. Your guidance of a person who is lost is a charity.” 

But we don’t have to be members of a religion to understand that helping others less fortunate than ourselves is essential to being human.

Everyone — repeat, everyone — has, at one time or another, had to rely on others to get them through. Those who won’t admit that family members, friends, a community, or even strangers, came to their aid when they were needed, are not being honest.

We have all been there.

This time of year is especially important to remember those in need whom we can help. The season of light, of passing on lessons to the young, of fellowship and celebrations of life, should remind us that there are those among us who need help.

On Shelter Island, there are several organizations that work to bring some relief to those down on their luck.

For more than 20 years, The Island Gift of Life Foundation has channeled the generosity of donors to provide financial assistance to those who are presented with financial burdens due to serious health and wellness situations. Go to islandgiftoflife.org for more information, an application form, and application instructions, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to donate either your time or your money.

The Shelter Island Lions Club is a quiet life saver to many Islanders on a daily basis, providing funds and referrals. For more information, email [email protected].

The Shelter Island Action Alliance, which was created in the early days of the pandemic to help local businesses while providing support for Islanders in need, has not stopped its important work. Currently, the Alliance has its “Holiday Home Decorating Contest,” with all entry fees going to buy gift cards at local businesses for local families in need. For more information, go to the Alliance’s Facebook page or phone 631-806-5458.

While the Presbyterian Church provides space for the Island’s Food Pantry, other Island churches — Our Lady of the Isle, St. Mary’s and Union Chapel in the Grove — contribute to ensuring shelves are well stocked and free of charge for needy individuals. To contribute, contact Pantry Coordinator Carrie Wood at [email protected]. Food donations can be dropped off at the church, as well as financial donations, or mailed to Shelter Island Presbyterian Church/Food Pantry, PO Box 612, Shelter Island, NY 11964.

Other Island nonprofits to contact during this season of giving are: Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund/Strongpoint Theinert Ranch (josephjtheinertmemorialfund.org); Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island (siseniorfoundation.org); and The Retreat (theretreatinc.org).

During the holidays, or any time of the year, it’s worth remembering that no charitable act, no matter how small, is ever wasted.