For every crisis, the Queens Night Market steps up.
This year, the weekly outdoor Smörgåsbord raised over $27,000 to help its neighbors in need who have been affected by both the pandemic and Hurricane Ida.
“We want to be the best corporate neighbors we could, to draw some attention to those in need and raise some funds,” said John Wang, the Queens Night Market’s founder.
The market had ticketed the first three weekends of the summer to manage attendance, which at the time was subject to Gov. Cuomo’s capacity limitations, and waived vendor participation fees. The Queens Night Market pledged to donate 20 percent of those proceeds to Covid-19 and racial equity-focused charities, and ended up raising $11,000 for two Queens-based organizations: New Immigrant Community Empowerment and Love Wins Food Pantry.
The market had not planned on hosting another fundraiser before its season ended Oct. 30, but Hurricane Ida ravaged the city the week before the Queens Night Market reopened for its fall season and organizers were prompted into action.
On Sept. 18, the first night back after taking a break for the US Open, the Queens Night Market raised between more than $16,000.
Wang is working with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on choosing which Queens-based organization to donate the proceeds to, but Wang said Sept. 27 that they will definitely go to one that prioritizes undocumented immigrants who were affected by the hurricane.
At the time the money was raised, the $27 million city and state joint fund for those ineligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid had not been announced. Wang found that his organization had the opportunity to step in.
“There was no resource for them, for families that can’t get assistance,” Wang said. “It just made sense not to target families who qualified for FEMA.”
Wang said he was inspired to help undocumented immigrants because they are a group that is usually the last to receive help for any disaster, including the pandemic.
Additionally, the Queens Night Market lifts up cuisine from cultures across the globe, so Wang said it made sense to lift up the people of those cultures, too.
“They form the entire backbone and story of our event. It makes sense to celebrate immigrants, and help them when they need it,” Wang said.
In one night, the market raised more than $16,000 thanks to the generous donations of guests, who were asked to make a voluntary offering at the door, and from nearly half the vendors, who gifted a percentage of their profits from the night. The Queens Night Market itself donated 100 percent of its proceeds from its first night back.
Wang said he doesn’t foresee the market hosting any more fundraisers in its final weeks, but he can’t promise that there won’t be another. Wang said he and other Queens Night Market participants would never shy away from stepping up to aid their neighbors if the need arises.