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Samaritans Restock the Long-Lost Community Center Baby Pantry

The Tarrytown Community Opportunity Center lost its pantry full of baby necessities for mothers in need last year; on Thursday many bags of items arrived from a White Plains office.

“You guys are amazing,” said Kristin Lanza, Area Director of the , as the giant bags of goods were being carried into the entrance hall of the facility.

Employees of Benchmark Title Agency in White Plains decided to replace the usual Secret Santa event at the office with something more meaningful. Rather “than giving each other gloves,” said Sales Executive Toni Rossi, “we decided to do something that would make a difference.”

Coworkers, led by Director of Operations, Jennifer Noto, and her team of sales executives, started a collection of baby items for the TCOC. Four women arrived Thursday at noon with a few thousand dollars’ worth of diapers, wipes, clothes, bottles, pacifiers, and more.

The TCOC once had a baby pantry stocked with necessities for pregnant and new mothers in need. However, in March of 2010 the pantry was flooded so badly it was destroyed. “There was back flow, it was disgusting,” said Lanza, who said they “lost everything,” including some walls that had to be torn down. The basement room used to be appointed like a baby’s room and the women could come in with a case worker and help themselves.

Just in case replenishing the pantry wasn’t generous enough, the women of the insurance agency also brought lunch. There was a buzz about the place – “my head is spinning,” Lanza said, as the gym was being set up for a Salvation Army concert that night and “it literally looks like Christmas threw up in my office" – but in a quiet room off to the side, about 20 staffmembers and local families were invited to help themselves to sandwiches from the .

This good spirit won’t end for Benchmark at Christmas. When they also heard that the TCOC was in need of career clothes for women, they decided to continue their collecting efforts year-round. “This will be an ongoing effort for us. We have placed a box in our office and will continue to collect for them,” Rossi said.  

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