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Scarsdale sophomores Rowan Haffner, Cyrus Toosi and Luca Dowdall pile up donations at Grace Episcopal Church in White Plains.

It’s a good thing Luca Dowdall’s family has a big delivery van because he and his friends keep filling it up.

Working together with his Scarsdale High School classmates Rowan Haffner and Cyrus Toosi, Dowdall created the “Hearts for Philanthropy” project to collect donations and distribute them to charities around the area.

This past Wednesday, May 13, they loaded up the van with more than 1,500 clothing items, filled a pickup truck with food items and delivered all the goods to the Grace Episcopal Church in White Plains.

The three friends have been doing volunteer projects together since they were in Quaker Ridge Elementary School, and they know such projects are needed now more than ever.

“Our motto is ‘We help you help others,’” explained Haffner. “We knew everyone in our community wanted to give back, and we had volunteer experience together and we wanted to connect the people who want to give back with the charities that we know are really in need.”

It’s a daunting task to undertake based on the mountain of items they are collecting and delivering. All the items are collected at the Dowdall house, where the three friends sort through everything by hand and organize them in bags for delivery.

Despite the workload, they do it because they enjoy giving back and working on volunteer projects, and they realize the need is greater than ever during the pandemic.

“We recognize that we’re really privileged to live in our town and be able to go to the schools that we do,” said Toosi. “We know there are people who are less fortunate than us and don’t have the opportunities that we have. We wanted to help give them basic necessities like food and clothing.”

Prior to the delivery at Grace Episcopal Church, the trio made a delivery of 20 bags of men’s clothing to the Midnight Run relief program a week ago. Their effort started small as they spread the word, and donations poured in after they posted about it on social media.

Next they created a website heartforphilanthropy.com and set up an Amazon.com shopping list, which enabled them to receive donations from people around the world, including Venezuela, Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s a tough time for everyone, but it’s the toughest time for people who really need our help the most now,” said Haffner. “Anything that anyone can do makes a big difference. It’s great that so many people are willing to help out.”

Visit heartforphilanthropy.com for information on what, when and where to donate food and clothing items.

Bread of Life

Scarsdale High School junior Adam Wasserman has been working every week for the past two years with the Bread of Life Food Pantry based in Rye, spending countless hours stocking shelves, collecting food donations and distributing the food.

However, he faced a dilemma with the coronavirus outbreak. Because his grandmother is living with his family, he knew he couldn’t continue to work at the food pantry and risk bringing home the virus to his family. So he came up with a different way to help the pantry during the crisis.

“I can’t do what I usually do to help them, so I thought I would help them remotely by reaching out to my community with a charity-based food drive,” Wasserman explained.

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Adam Wasserman collecting food for the Bread of Life food pantry.

Bread of Life is a large operation that feeds more than 10,000 Westchester County residents each week. It usually receives food rescue donations from markets and restaurants around the county, but those sources have dried up since the shutdown of nonessential business activity.

Wasserman understands how the system works and how much the pantry has been hampered by the crisis.

“They’re definitely hurting right now,” Wasserman said. “More people are buying from grocery stores and eating at home, so there is less opportunity for the pantry to rescue.”

The solution: a donation box at the end of his driveway at 9 Wayside Lane and an effort to spread the word. The result: over the past few weeks, he has collected and dropped off three loads of food at the pantry, and he will continue to do so every week as long as it is needed.

“More people need food support as more and more people are getting laid off,” Wasserman said, “so I thought I needed to do something and help.”

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