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INTERVIEW: Heart Of The Hamptons Executive Director Hilton Crosby On The 2019 Polar Bear Plunge At Coopers Beach, And More

T.J. Clemente

The Polar Bear Plunge is held every year at Coopers Beach. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini/www.hamptonsphotog.com)

Hilton Crosby, Executive Director at Heart of the Hamptons, a community-based charity founded by the community of Southampton, has an ambitious objective for one of the most beloved happenings of the Southampton holiday season. He told us, "The 16th annual Polar Bear Plunge will take place on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at Coopers Beach in Southampton Village. The goal this year is to raise the lofty total of $125,000. I was very proud of last year's efforts that yielded just around the goal of $100,000." He added, "If we reach that goal for the upcoming year, we can then focus on the quality and types of programming that we carry out throughout the year. The main programs are: the food pantry, the clothing rooms, and our assistance programs."

Crosby explained, "We serve around two thousand people every year through helping people with food insecurity. Our food pantry helps people by providing food to lesson their burden, so that they don't have to choose to pay the light bill or put protein or fresh produce on their table."

Since this is a community effort, Crosby proudly noted, "We have many great supporters of the Polar Bear Plunge, such as the Bathing Corp of Southampton who is matching funds of $7,500, with extra towels being provided by Ethan Allen. However, the majority of the money comes from plungers and people that collect donations to support our efforts each year at Heart of the Hamptons."

The Polar Bear Plunge is held every year at Coopers Beach. There will be registration at 9 a.m. and the "Plunge" at 10 a.m. promptly. Crosby noted, "You can show up and register or collect money, we don't actually force anyone to go in. We hold it snow or shine!" You can also contribute by contacting the Heart of the Hamptons at 631-283-6415 or heartofthehamptons.org.

Concerning the origin of the Heart of the Hamptons, Crosby noted, "It started over 30 years ago, around 1981, with a group of committed local Southampton people. In 2003, we incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit."

When asked to give an example of a memorable service, Crosby noted one day some folks walked in to say the electricity of their home had been cut off just after the kids went to school. The charity intervened and was able to get the heat and lights back on before the kids came home from school.

When asked what he is most proud of, he revealed, "It's really being able to provide for this community, we distribute 65,000 meals a year. That's a big accomplishment, I wear that as a badge of honor, but the main thing about the Heart of the Hamptons, it is truly a community organization, so many do so much and they are the ones who deserve all the credit. The standard Food Pantry days (located in the Basement of the Building of Sacred Hearts Church at 168 Hill Street) are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon." He noted those seeking assistance from the Food Pantry need to bring proof of Southampton Town residency.

Lastly, Crosby stated, "We help in other ways too. If you need help, please feel free to call us at 631-283-6415. The Heart of the Hamptons is a community of caring people with the mission to help folks in our community, should they need it."

For those not in the Hamptons the weekend of the Polar Bear Plunge, make sure to catch the always amusing action live on the Hamptons.com Coopers Beach Camera.

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