St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Islip will be at it again this Oct. 17, with its monthly outdoor food drive.

Run entirely by volunteers, the “Day of Helping Hands” runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that Saturday at 754 Montauk Highway. Drop-off tables will be set up at the church doors, which face St. Mark’s Lane off Montauk Highway.

This is a nonsectarian event, church leaders were quick to point out.

“We want to expand the community outreach,” said the Rev. Richard E. Simpson. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a parishioner or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re Episcopalian or not.  It doesn’t matter if you live in Islip, Patchogue, Shirley, Bellport or Huntington on the North Shore.”

The food drive is collecting non-perishable items, such as pasta, rice, beans, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, mac and cheese, juice boxes, crackers, cookies, salt, pepper, cake/brownie mixes, canned tuna and chicken, stuffing mix, soup, canned gravy, tomato sauce, condensed milk, pudding (boxed, not prepared) jello, apple sauce, canned vegetables and fruit, kid-friendly treats, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, toiletries, pet food, baby products, and more. Basically, nothing that can spoil.

The food is then sent to God’s Provisions, Inc., an organization that works with Long Island Cares. The organizations distribute food to pantries throughout the South Shore.

Dana Jahn, who runs God’s Provisions said without the efforts of the community, the organization would be extremely limited in its distribution.

“And it’s the families who are suffering,” she said.

It was one St. Mark’s parishioner in July who asked the church to organize the monthly drive, provided it was held outside due to the pandemic.

“We’ve been doing it every month since,” Father Simpson said.

“But, as one parishioner pointed out, the holidays will be strange enough this year, and especially grim for some families. The weather will also get cold soon, and we don’t know what it will look like once we can’t hold these outdoors,” he said. “That makes this one even more critically important.”

Those looking to donate do not have to exit their cars if they do not feel comfortable, the drive organizers said. Volunteers will fetch the donations.

Masks and social distancing are a requirement for all participants. Anyone looking to volunteer can call St. Mark’s at 631-581-4950. Ask for Irene.

Oct. 17 will also mark an outdoor craft fair on church grounds.

Top photo: Volunteer Christine Cappellino at September’s food drive.

Volunteers at the Sept. 19th food drop completely filled a Ford Club Van. (courtesy)