A Letter from Neil's Dad, Greg Barber
Neil’s Wheels was started to teach families about mental illness and to encourage the students to open up about any problem.
The feeding of the Homeless came about, when the Manhasset Students wanted to do something special for Neil. They wanted to give food to Neil at Thanksgiving, 2009, but Neil wanted the food to go to the Homeless Shelters in the Long Island area.
That first thanksgiving, Manhasset donated so much food, that the Coach and I needed 6 Homeless Shelters to deliver the food to. The Manhasset students wouldn’t stop, and we did it again for the holidays, and we brought the food to the 6 Homeless Shelters.
Then Manhasset wanted to feed these hungry families all winter long and Neil’s Wheels was born. There were 5 classes participating in the food drive, and once every 5 weeks, a different class was in charge of collecting cans of food. Then, Coach Rule and I would bring the food to the Church or Temple in charge for the evening, and we would help with the Homeless dinners on Wednesday evenings.
Then, Manhasset decided to have a dance in Neil’s honor, and this dance, that you can see pictures of in the Neil’s Wheels events, brought in 821 cans of food. Each student was required to bring 3 cans of food to the dance to get into the dance.
I tell these students that anyone can become Homeless and anyone can have mental problems as well as drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. The key is to get help and to talk to your parents, and teachers and coaches and your friends when you have a problem. It is worse to keep that problem a secret.
Neil’s Wheels is expanding. We now have St Peters and the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and even The National Honor Society allows the students to select Neil’s Wheels as their community service.
The key to our program, is we monitor where the food goes and we actively work with the Ecumenical Food Pantries, and the churches and temples that serve the Homeless. And, we are a local program. We will expand, and we will be a new foundation soon.
For now, the checks you give to help us can be made out to St Hugh Project Hope, and Temple Beth El and to First Presbyterian Church of Northport. We will be back to you to tell you where your food and money went. You can choose which pantry or which program you want your food, clothing and money to go to.
We look forward to hearing from you.
973 224 1132