Written by John White
Andrew Crecca is a junior at Notre Dame University studying a pre-med curriculum. A graduate of Hauppauge High School and long standing member of the Hauppauge community, Andrew came to our attention as a dedicated individual looking to help people facing food insecurity. He and his friends set up a food donation system to help provide food to the St. Thomas More Outreach Center. The food pantry there helps our neighbors struggling to make ends meet. We interviewed Andrew on April 15th to learn more about this service project and his act of kindness.
Q: What prompted you to put this program together and how did you implement it?
AC: I’ve always been involved in contributing service hours to the Hauppauge community, but I wanted to do something that I felt would have a more direct impact on those in need. As a high school junior a few friends and I decided to help support Island Harvest by asking our neighbors to contribute a grocery bag of food items. We made a list of the most needed items, clipped it to the bags along with a prearranged date when we’d return to pick them up, and went around, house-to-house, leaving them on doorsteps. The response was really great. The following year as seniors we repeated the activity, but this time there were almost 20 of my friends who got involved. And this time, we decided to collect for the food pantry at St. Thomas More. The response was equally positive.
Q: What happened next?
AC: Well, last summer (2020) so many of us did not have jobs or internships materialize due to the pandemic that we all got together again and did a collection. This time the contributions were fantastic and the fact that we were all in pandemic situation made the collection process (leaving the filled bags on a doorstep on a preset date) worked very well. This summer one of my friends wants to take the lead on the effort for himself.
Q: Why was this so important to you?
AC: I have always been involved in my faith and the idea of service as a component of that. The idea of service orientation has been strong for me as far back as my religious education classes. We even did food drives way back then. Doing service projects in school as ‘required’ hours kind of transitioned into doing it because we wanted to. I’m grateful for that teaching and about the way I was raised. And the support that I got from my friends when I pitched the idea to them was really rewarding. It was great to see their contribution. It was nice to be recognized for the work we did and the contributions we made to the pantry, but it was even better to know that we were directly helping out people who were in serious need.
Q: What’s the takeaway for you and what advice do you have for our readers?
AC: I think the takeaway is that others are now willing to step forward and continue this ‘tradition’ or to try something different that might help our community. I learned from this experience that just about everyone is willing to help out. They just need direction or a project to focus on. And you have to step out of your comfort zone and ask for their help.
Our interviewer, John White, is a long time Hauppauge resident who recently retired from a rewarding career as a pharmacist, clinician, and pharmaceutical industry consultant. In addition to his work with the Hauppauge Public Library, John volunteers his time with St. Thomas More’s youth ministry and the Boy Scouts of America. In his spare time, John is an avid reader, an active runner, and loves to travel.
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