Bank deposits cash into business leaders’ hurricane help effort

This time, it was a bank making a deposit.

Representatives of Marathon Bank of New York welcomed leaders of the Merchants of Third Avenue to their branch 7123 Third Ave. on Nov. 16 to present the business group with a $2,500 donation to its hurricane relief fund. Marathon Vice President Zoe Koutsoupakis had announced the donation at the Merchants’ recent Pioneers of Third Avenue Awards dinner on Nov. 5. Now, the bank was making good on its promise.

“It’s so important to keep helping the people who need help,” Koutsoupakis said.

The money will be put to immediate use, according to Jason McDermott and Jim Whiffin, members of the Merchants and owners of the Pour House, a popular bar 7901 Third Ave. McDermott and Whiffin have been regularly trucking food and supplies to hurricane-ravaged areas of New York. On the night of the Pioneers dinner, the two men, who won awards that evening, left the restaurant where the reception took place carrying trays of food to bring to hurricane survivors.

McDermott and Whiffin have also pumped water out of people’s basements and have worked with the National Guard to get supplies to those in need. They will never forget the sights they have seen of the hurricane’s destruction, McDermott said. Their first visit to New Dorp Beach on Staten Island was particularly jarring, he said. “There was sand everywhere. Cars were flipped over. Houses had collapsed. Furniture was piled up out on the street. It was terrible,” he said.

 “We just want to help out,” McDermott said after accepting the check from Koutsoupakis.

The money the bank donated will “help us continue to do what we’ve been doing,” McDermott said. He and Whiffin have formed a non-profit group called Viking Love New York to assist hurricane victims. The same was inspired by Ian Evers, a Pour House employee who has been assisting McDermott and Whiffin with their hurricane relief work. “He loves Vikings,” McDermott said.

Koutsoupakis said she is pleased that the Merchants are supportive of the efforts of McDermott and Whiffin. “They know where the needs are. They’ll spend the money wisely,” she said.

Charles Otey, chairman of the Pioneers dinner, and Chip Cafiero, director of development for Adelphi Academy, were on hand at the bank for the check presentation. Dr. Roy Blash, headmaster at Adelphi Academy, was a Pioneers Award recipient. Two other members of the Pioneers Committee, Marc Hibsher, advertising executive for the Bay Ridge Eagle, and Lori Pedone, marketing strategic for the Home Reporter, and a Pioneers Award winner, were also in attendance.

The Merchants group represents hundreds of store owners on Third Avenue between 69th and 95th Streets.

Marathon Bank was recently acquired by Investors Bank. Under the Investors Bank name, the bank has organized a super-storm Sandy Relief Effort. A donation box has been placed in the lobby of each of the bank’s branches and customers are being to drop items in the box. “They can donate anything they want, clothes, toothpaste, deodorant, anything,” Koutsoupakis said.