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Hamptons Community Outreach founder Marit Molin (left) helped feed the homeless, thanks to donations from East Enders, this past Thanksgiving. (Photo courtesy of Hamptons Community Outreach)

Giving Tuesday — or as the cool kids style it #GivingTuesday — is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving observed across the nation as a global philanthropic movement practicing generosity and magnanimity. In short, it evokes the spirit of giving and frankly, South Forkers, ‘tis the season.

Among all the apparent affluence surrounding the Hamptons, there are plenty of people living well below the poverty line. Kids are going hungry. People are living in tents. The rich are literally living right next to the poor. But, starting today, throughout the rest of the holidays, and hopefully beyond, we can all band together and spread a little kindness-laced fairy dust around the East End.

“There’s joy in giving, isn’t there?” says East Hampton Food Pantry administrator Kitty Merrill. “Especially when we know we’re helping to serve a need.”

In honor of Giving Tuesday, we’re highlighting a few East End organizations that are here to help those in need. Most of these organizations, like food pantries, are 501c(3) nonprofits, so “besides sparking the joy of giving, donations are also tax deductible,” Merrill says. And remember: give only what you can afford to give. You don’t have to give all you got, but it’d be great if you could give a little bit.

Inside the Springs Food Pantry. (Photo credit: Amy Zavatto)

“Few people think of ‘need’ and ‘The Hamptons’ simultaneously, but trust me, food insecurity is real in East Hampton,” says Merrill,” a Springs resident.

East Hampton’s food pantry serves residents from Montauk to Wainscott — and their numbers continue to grow. Just last week alone, Merrill says, the pantry served over 200 individuals more than in 2022, which was already a number well into the hundreds. And chew on this: In some South Fork school districts, over 50 percent of families live at or below the poverty level. The cost of living here is that high.. To make a donation, click here.

“We think the rising cost of food has played a part in the surge,” she says. “We know we’re feeling that pinch here and expect to double last year’s food budget by the time the curtain falls on 2023.”

The East Hampton Food Pantry is located at 159 Pantigo Road, with a satellite location at 486 Montauk Highway in Amagansett. Other pantries to consider for this giving season include:

Sag Harbor Food Pantry (44 East Union St.)

Springs Food Pantry (5 Old Stone Highway, East Hampton)

Montauk Food Pantry (67 South Essex St.)

Heart of the Hamptons (168 Hill St., Southampton)

The Church of the Immaculate Conception Food Pantry (580 Main St., Westhampton Beach)

Led by executive director and founder Marit Molin, Hamptons Community Outreach is dealing with the poverty issue across the East End head on. “I started Hamptons Community Outreach when I learned about all the different needs that exist here in the Hamptons,” she says. “There are lots and lots of people who can’t afford to even dress or feed their children properly.”

Hampton Community Outreach delivers meals to 400 families each week. (Photo courtesy of hamptons Community Outreach)

A licensed social worker and therapist, Molin and her HCO team have raised over $3.5 million and an excess of $2.1 million of in-kind donations. HCO uniquely brings their services directly to the person in need while providing a wide range of services, including home repair, child-centered programs, food outreach crisis care about 400 families are fed on a weekly basis with 6,500 cooked meals and over 19,000 pounds of fresh produce and groceries delivered in 2020 alone.

Right now, aside from monetary donations, the nonprofit is holding “Adopt a Letter to Santa,” an initiative to help provide Christmas gifts to children in need. There will be a toy drive until Sunday, December 10, at 15 Lumber Lane in East Hampton as well and gifts can also be dropped off or delivered to their Southampton location, 514 North Main St., no later than Friday, December 8.

However you want to slice it, the South Fork is populated with plenty of arts and cultural centers, museums and theaters, many of which are also nonprofits, that continue to operate day-in and day-out, year after year, offering many events, community programming, shows, exhibits and so much more for free. They make it look easy, but there’s a lot of upkeep involved, from old buildings that need mending to grounds that need tending to staff that need salaries. Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater, Water Mill’s Parrish Art Museum, Southampton Arts Center, Guild Hall, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center — any and all of these superb entities would benefit immensely from a donation.

“Looking back at 2023, SAC showcased 156 artists, put 353 spectacular works on view, held four major exhibtions, staged 21 live performances, hosted 225 films, panels, and talks and so much more,” says SAC executive director Christina Strassfield in an email blast. “All this happened because you decided to make supporting SAC, this community, and the arts in our region one of your philanthropic priorities.”

Whoever you decide deserves your dollars, end the year on a high-road note — you’ll feel good, they’ll feel great and the world, well… it’ll be just a little bit of a better place than it was yesterday.