Benefit Raises $1.3+M for Hunger Relief in New York City

Margie Sung and Alex Friedman Honored for their Dedication to Helping Others

NEW YORK, March 2, 2022 — The pandemic has made everyone acutely aware of the importance of social interaction and human touch. Due to COVID 19, celebrations have been relegated to online events or delayed indefinitely. But for nonprofit organizations, annual fundraisers are the mainstay of survival. This Tuesday, nearly two years after the start of the pandemic, New York Common Pantry (NYCP) hosted its Fill The Bag Benefit in-person, and raised more than $1.3 million to feed hungry New Yorkers and to help those in need acquire access to public benefits.

The Fill The Bag Benefit took place at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York, with a combined attendance of nearly 450 people in-person and online. The money raised is instrumental in providing support for the millions of New Yorkers who rely on NYCP’s programs and services. Since the start of COVID operations in March 2020, New York Common Pantry has served more than 14.8 million meals to New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity and poverty.

“We rely on community support in order for New York Common Pantry to help the large number of people in need throughout the city. Tonight, we are grateful to have raised $1.3M+ to continue our work,” said Stephen Grimaldi, Executive Director, New York Common Pantry.

Willie Geist served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Mr. Geist is the host of NBC News, Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist. In addition, he is a co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and a regular host and contributor to TODAY, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Meet the Press.

Lydia Fenet, Global Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships and Lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s Auction House, was the event’s auctioneer. She has led auctions for more than six hundred organizations and raised more than half a billion dollars for nonprofits globally.

The evening honored Margie Sung, a 14-year veteran on Wall Street advising hedge funds and mutual funds on their equity portfolios, with “The Distinguished Partner Award.” Ms. Sung joined the NYCP board in 2014, and was appointed co-chair of the Development Committee shortly thereafter. She has now been involved in five Fill the

NYCP reduces hunger and promotes dignity, health and self-sufficiency.

Bag Benefits as co-chair, and volunteers regularly with a group of friends called “Margie’s Minions.”

“The Pantry solves problems. New York problems. It began with a fundamental problem in a single community 42 years ago in Yorkville. Four decades later, NYCP’s community has gotten bigger in scope and size; they face new challenges and set out to solve them thoughtfully and strategically, and I love that,” said Ms. Sung.

In addition, “The Estée Lauder Companies Distinguished Volunteer Award” was presented to Alex Friedman, a former office supplies business manager who has dedicated himself to volunteerism. Mr. Friedman was the first volunteer back to NYCP in late March 2020, and led Pantry operations three days/week through the height of the pandemic as NYCP operated in split shifts with limited staff. He has volunteered more than 2,000 hours with NYCP in total.

“I am proud to present The Estée Lauder Companies Distinguished Volunteer Award to Alex Friedman,” said Sara Moss, Vice Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. “After the pandemic hit, Alex conducted logistically complicated and exhausting frontline work for the Pantry, day after day. We celebrate Alex for his expert leadership, contagious enthusiasm, and unyielding devotion to the New York Common Pantry.”


For more information about our programs or to donate, please visit or follow @NYCommonPantry (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Images available upon request. New York Common Pantry, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that reduces hunger and promotes dignity, health, and self- sufficiency. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews, contact: Ellen Miller, NYCP Communications and Events Manager; 917-862-1222 or

NYCP reduces hunger and promotes dignity, health and self-sufficiency.