East End Fund For Children Debuts Partnership With Citarella

Children and community leaders gather outside Citarella in Bridgehampton to celebrate the launch of the fundraiser.

Representatives from the East End Fund for Children, Citarella owner Joe Gurrera, local families and children gathered outside Citarella in Bridgehampton on Monday to celebrate the launch of a RoundUp Fundraising campaign — a partnership between Citarella and the East End Fund for Children.

The fundraising campaign is designed to meet the needs of the community’s most vulnerable during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and to help build the capacity of the East End Fund For Children’s seven member organizations: the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center, the Children’s Museum of the East End, the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, i-tri, Project MOST, the Retreat and the Southampton Youth Association. Money raised during the month-long campaign will go to the seven organizations, which are dedicated to providing essential food, mental health support, counseling, and educational and recreational programming to families living on the East End.

Citarella owner Joe Gurrera announces the launch of the RoundUp fundraiser to raise money for the East End Fund for Children.

“Our Citarella family is grounded in the communities that we serve,” Mr. Gurrera said. “This coalition is helping 3,500 kids from 18 months to 18 years of age, in turn helping their families and their community as a whole. I am proud to announce that Citarella will support all of these children with the RoundUp fundraiser.”

The fundraising campaign began on July 30 and will run through Labor Day weekend, and will encourage shoppers at Citarella’s three locations on the East End to donate to the campaign at the time of their purchase. Donations will be equally divided between the seven organizations, and in the spirit of “friendly competition,” Citarella teams will compete to see who can raise the most funds.

“Over 20 years, we’ve been very fortunate to call the East End our home,” Mr. Gurrera said. “I understand how important it is to be a good neighbor, to be aware of community needs, and to stand up and help out.”

Among those who showed up to support the new partnership were State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming.

Ms. Fleming said that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the local community, the fundraiser offers a unique opportunity to pool together resources for the seven organizations that are “making a difference,” and leaving a lasting impact on the community.

“The fact of the matter is that we are still in the impact of COVID-19 and there are many in our community who are in real need, whether it’s food insecurity, or catching up on education, inability to connect with the internet for remote learning, or mental health issues,” she said.

Ms. Fleming cited the commitment of the seven organizations to serving the local community, and said she is confident that the partnership will raise real resources that will be put to use in a way that is desperately needed.

“We’re going to continue to fight until that giving meter is all the way up to the top, and we can see that these organizations have every penny they need to meet the needs that we see in our community,” she said.

“We’re going to do everything in our offices to let people know about this initiative, whether it be social media, word of mouth,” Mr. Thiele added. “These are organizations that get the job done every single day, they are fighting for our children every single day, so now it’s our turn to fight for them.”

Theresa Roden, founder of i-tri, an empowerment program for middle school girls through the sport of triathlon, said she is excited about the initiative because it will help to continue to support adolescent girls in the community.

“Adolescents seem to be the demographic that got hit the most by the pandemic, being out of school and the difficult social aspect,” Ms. Roden said. “We can’t wait to get back in person, and this fundraiser will just help us support the girls in every way we can.”

Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center Executive Director Bonnie Cannon said the partnership allows seven incredible organizations, all with the same goal of creating a better future for local children and families, to come together.

“To put it simply, we’re better together,” Ms. Cannon said. “Instead of these organizations being separate, this collaboration is great because we can all come together and contribute together.”

The event also celebrated the work of student artists who created self portraits for the East End Fund’s summer self-portrait contest. In the coming months, Citarella hopes to create exciting merchandise that features the work of the student artists that will be for sale at Citarella, Mr. Gurrera said.