New Charity Helps Kids

Long before Tropical Storm Irma smashed into the Dominican Republic, Meaghan Guzman, who was born and raised in Sag Harbor and now lives in East Hampton, had identified the dire need to help children and families living in remote parts of the island — the parts that most vacationers who flock to the Caribbean hotspot never see. 

Hence the name of her charity, Debajo de las Palmas, or Under the Palms, which Ms. Guzman said she used metaphorically for what one really finds, if one were to stop and look, beyond the glorious palm trees that line the upscale resorts: hundreds of starving children. 

“I went to the D.R. with my husband for the first time in 2006 and it broke my heart to see village kids who would pick dried up limes off a tree and try to sell them just to make a few pesos to buy food.”

She returned to the East End and immediately collected donations for clothes and food, which her husband’s family, who live in the capital city of Santo Domingo, helped distribute. Over the years, Ms. Guzman partnered with orphanages in the Dominican Republic and sent a regular supply of clothes, shoes, baby formula, diapers, and food. Children at these orphanages range from ages 2 to 18, she said, and many are H.I.V. and AIDS patients. About 60 percent of them, she explained, are refugees from neighboring Haiti, who cross over to the Dominican Republic side in hopes of a better life, but rarely find it.

In 2016, Debajo de las Palmas received its official nonprofit status. On Oct. 15, Ms. Guzman will host her charity’s first annual family picnic benefit at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. An impressive list of local and New York City vendors and food purveyors will supply the fare, including Almond Restaurant, Simply Sublime, Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream, Chelsea Market, Naturopathica, and D.J. Biggie. Each ticket includes a picnic for the family, a blanket, as well as music, face painting, pumpkin painting, crafts, games, a raffle, and a silent auction.

The event runs from 3:30 to 7 p.m., and tickets cost $125 for a family of four or $85 for two. Tickets can be purchased at

All proceeds will go toward shipping costs to deliver provisions directly to the families in need. Ms. Guzman, a certified lactation consultant, also helps educate women about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to succeed in breastfeeding.

Tickets will also be on sale on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Homegrown Family Health Fair at the First Presbyterian Church in Southampton Village.