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Small Businesses On Long Island Getting Needed Boost Thanks To Thoughtful Residents Taking Part In 'The Takeout Project'

NORTHPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island woman is starting a movement to save restaurants and feed her neighbors -- all at the same time.

It's called "The Takeout Project."

So much of the charm in downtown Northport comes from its small businesses, like Main Street Cafe.

"Place used to be packed with people day and night," owner Darin Parker told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis recently.

But that all changed this year, down to about 30% of normal business.

"It's just so stressful every day, literally every day, hoping that ... if we have a bad day those are the days you're like, oh my God, is this it?" Parker said.

She is thankful for customers who take part in traditions, like filling little stockings with cash, which the owner turns into supermarket gift cards for a food pantry.

"Any time there's a cause, they always rise up and do the right thing," Parker said.

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Barbara Bolen wanted to support the restaurant, so she ordered food and asked the owner to donate it. That's what inspired The Takeout Project.

"The effort is to encourage people to buy gift cards to local restaurants to help the restaurants get through the winter with the takeout business and then distribute the gift cards at the local food pantries," Bolen said.

Her focus is on collecting gift cards in Northport and bringing them to the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry, which feeds about 160 families a month.

"When they go to a restaurant, no one's going to know whether they got it at the holidays or they got it through the food pantry. I feel like that's beautiful," Bolen said.


Helping Bolen is Carol Crowley, who will collect East Northport restaurant gift cards to bring to the food pantry run by St. Vincent De Paul Society, where she volunteers.

"We've really noticed that the need has gotten greater in our community. It'll either be a nice treat for our families to receive a food restaurant gift card or it'll be a much-needed meal," Crowley said.

And much-needed help for restaurants, so it's a win-win.

The goal is to get even more food pantries involved.

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While the women are only doing this in their towns, they encourage others to do the same where they live.

The Takeout Project officially kicks off next week.

If you want to donate gift cards, please contact Bolen at if you are in Northport and Crowley at if you are in East Northport.

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis contributed to this report

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