MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Saving lives is hungry work.
That’s why Cristina Giansante, Mahopac softball coach and teacher at Lakeview Elementary School, teamed up with her friend to raise money and deliver meals to front line healthcare workers at local hospitals.
“We both were talking about how we could get involved and volunteer to help what was going on, but unfortunately with no medical degree no one had a place for us,” Giansante said about herself and fellow White Plains High School graduate, Dylan Salaverria.
Knowing they still had a role to play, they reached out to friends, also White Plains alumni, who worked as nurses. Giansante and Salaverria started sending them money for coffee, but they had bigger plans.
“Our local businesses are struggling,” Giansante said. “We can be supporting these restaurants while showing gratitude and support to our health care workers, so we decided to start sending lunches to the nurses and their units.”
After feeding one hospital, Giansante and Salaverria invited more people to their cause, texting close friends and family, who responded by donating about $1,000 in an hour.
“My community really showed up, and it’s that kind of stuff that keeps us motivated to make these drops every day,” Giansante said. “Compassion in the darkest and most unpredictable times.”
And compassion can be contagious. Once word started to spread, donations took off.
“Family, friends, friends of friends, strangers—people have just been sharing our story,” Giansante said. “My Lakeview family has made incredible donations as well. Shout out to Lakeview; they have been amazing. Local businesses have been providing incredible service for us and making deals with us to let us continue this journey as well.”
Giansante and Salaverria made their first donation on Sunday, April 5, feeding and caffeinating four hospitals. The donations have been so immense that Giansante and Salaverria have had to make spreadsheets to keep track.
They have so far made donations to a half-dozen hospitals in Westchester and New York City. They also had donations planned to hospitals on Long Island and in New Jersey.
“We have not turned down one request yet,” Giansante said.
The softball coach deferred praise to her partner in this cause, Salaverria, whose mom is a retired nurse.
“This is something that meant a lot to him. He knows first-hand how hard and dedicated these people are,” Giansante said. “Dylan has been an absolute beast making runs all day long. He has not stopped, and he does not take no for an answer. He will do anything for anyone.”
Giansante said she wanted to set a good example for her players.
“I practice what I preach to my girls all the time about commitment,” Giansante said. “This community is our team and although we aren’t the ‘starters,’ you still have to do your part and support the team. Everyone has a role and commitment to each other. Find your place and work hard.
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