It’s a simple gesture that means so much during the current times, but for two Long Island business owners and Islander fans, it just seemed like the right thing to do.
In a collaborative effort between Devin Robinson of Yes Men Outfitters and Donald Rosner of Blue Line Deli and Bagels in Huntington, the two have worked to provide frontline workers and first responders across Long Island fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with breakfast daily. The two men have raised around $4,000 to provide meals to hospitals, firehouses and police stations around Long Island.
The premise has been simple: Robinson designed a specialty #HerosForHeros rally towel available through the Yes Men Outfitters website, with all proceeds going to provide meals to those on the front lines fighting COVID-19. That’s where Rosner steps in, putting together the food at his recently opened shop and delivering it.
The bagel store owner treks out Monday through Friday, making at least one to three stops to hand out the paid-for meals. They’ve been able to feed 50 to 200 people during the daily food runs, according to Rosner.
“What’s amazing to me is people are risking their lives to help these people,” Rosner said in a phone interview with Islanders Insight. “I find that inspiring and I think that those people deserve a lot more than what I can give. I just wanted to be a part of giving. So many people are giving, I mean it’s amazing to see how many people are doing whatever they can in their own businesses or their own lives. … We just wanted to do our part in that, which is feed them.”
The idea spawned from a request from Robinson to Rosner about getting some food to Robinson’s cousin, who is a nurse at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. Robinson was expecting his cousin to pass on the generous offer when he first broached the idea with her, but instead, she jumped at it.
Robinson put her in touch with Rosner and from there they were able to link up with other units in Winthrop, and then expanded outwards to other hospitals and first responders, with the sale of the rally towels helping along the way.
Naturally, with two Islander fans leading the charge, the rally towels have an Islanders theme. It’s a play on a classic chant that pokes at fun at the team’s Manhattan-based rival, with the phrase “if you know the ____ suck wash your hands.”
Robinson and Rosner figured they’d sell 100-300 of the towels through Yes Men Outfitters when they started. Instead, they sold 1,050 before Robinson could pause the sale so that he would not become overwhelmed with orders.
“My email is just flooded with people who want to help and want to donate,” Robinson said. “It’s a great way to get people to give to a cause because they get something cool too. It’s something they can relate to and it’s a funny towel, and kind of almost a way to commemorate this very weird time and season we’ve had as fans.”
Yes Men Outfitters will begin to sell the #HerosForHeros towels again beginning on Friday.
Like others across Long Island and the country, Robinson and Rosner have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Robinson has seen it first hand as a volunteer firefighter in New Hyde Park.
The way the department responds to calls has changed and members of his department have tested positive for COVID-19, Robinson said.
“Just to see the calls coming in and knowing there’s not much you can do,” Robinson said. “That’s somebody’s mom or grandmother and it’s part of the community, it’s so hard. Especially living in New York and going through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, there were times where the communities came together and put an arm around one another. This is a situation where that is actually the opposite of what we should be doing. Staying away from each other is what’s going to help.
“It takes a more creative mind to figure out how you can help from a distance. Through that, I think Donald and I figured out a great way to do that.”
For Rosner, it was about paying back the kindness he had received through the pandemic. Blue Line Deli and Bagels officially opened as COVID-19 began to shut down New York and the rest of the country.
Rosner put out a call to Islander fans on twitter to help him out and he received an overwhelming response.
“The amount of people that came here or ordered from us just to support me was like breathtaking to me,” Rosner said. “Every single day that I get up and I come here I’m so thankful to all those people on twitter that took their own safety into their own hands to come here. Or just to support me and that means more to me than anything else, which leads into the next part which is me, in turn, trying to help others.
“That’s what Islanders family is. That’s what the whole Islanders family Twitter is all about. We support each other, we help each other.”