The traditional Light Up the Holidays event Thursday night sought to do more than pay the LIPA bills this year.
"We hold this every year to pay for the snowflakes we put around town," said Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce President Shari Cope-Dembowski. "We buy them, we repair them, replace the lights, and the LIPA bill comes to us."
This year, however, the event brought a greater sense of community. The gathering of Oyster Bay and East Norwich merchants, lawmakers, and influencers at Sagamore Yacht Club worked to help those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.
"This year, it's a different focus," said Cope-Dembowski. "The local food banks are really hurting so we're collecting donations."
With Hurricane Sandy still fresh in the community's mind, guests were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and clothing to the party.
"We've already collected bags of clothing," said Cope-Dembowski, gesturing to several bags bursting with donations.
As guests shared stories of Sandy and hopes for the holidays over drinks and hors d'oeuvres provided by Jack Halyard's American Bar & Grill, they tried their luck at winning one of 30 raffle prizes, ranging from holiday poinsettia plants to baskets of cheer, dinner at local restaurants to art classes.
The Chamber is encouraging everyone to continue donating any and all financial donations and food for those in need. Checks can be made payable to "OBEN Chamber" and sent to P.O. Box 21, Oyster Bay, NY 11771. New or gently used winter clothing and non-perishable foods can be dropped off as well. Call 516-922-6464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for drop offs.