"Tis the season for giving.  With unprecented wild weather in our area this year that included hurricane force winds, torrential rain and flooding as well as a couple of tornadoes, the need for help has been greater than ever too.  Your generosity can help.

Governor Cuomo has launched "Help Your Neighbor," a statewide initiative to urge businesses and New Yorkers to give directly to regional food banks this holiday season.  The Governor also announced that $1 million in grants will be given to eight food banks across the state and an additional $620,000 in grants for emergency food relief organizations in communities hit hard by the recent flooding and storms.

Regional food banks are the primary source of food for those in need, as they stock networks of food pantries and soup kitchens. As a result of the recent storms and flooding as well as the difficult economic times, food banks have struggled to provide enough food for those seeking assistance. The "Help Your Neighbor" initiative urges all businesses and New Yorkers to give what they can to help make sure those in need do not go hungry during the holiday season.

"In these tough economic times, New York food banks are struggling to fill their shelves and meet the high demand," Governor Cuomo said. "The 'Help Your Neighbor' initiative will help ensure soup kitchens and food pantries across the state have the resources they need to feed all those who seek assistance this holiday season. New Yorkers have always been the first to give and the initiative will tap into this spirit of generosity to make sure those in need can put food on the table."

The "Help Your Neighbor" initiative encourages New Yorkers and businesses to donate resources to help restock and fill the shelves of food banks across New York State. Food banks are a critical provider to the soup kitchens and food pantries that many New Yorkers rely on, particularly during difficult economic times. As a result of the flooding and tough weather of the past year, affected New York farms have struggled to provide the generous donations they usually give to food banks. Additionally, some donors have scaled back their giving due to tough economic conditions.

"Help Your Neighbor" is a part of the "NYGives" campaign, a statewide effort to encourage charitable giving and generosity throughout the holiday season. "NYGives" connects businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and those seeking to give with organizations that directly serve New Yorkers most in need.

 The campaign will continue through the end of 2011.

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