Though Thanksgiving Day Parade tickets are certainly a wonderful distraction, many families who suffered Hurricane Sandy's wrath still won't have resources to share a holiday meal with their families this year. To that end, relief organizations have prepared special holiday meals so nobody has to miss out.
Even though food pantries and soup kitchens are typically inundated with donations around the holidays, this year they're poised to receive hundreds more people who have been displaced by Sandy. Many of these organizations are seeking donations of either time, money, food or all three; here are ways you can help out this holiday:
From 1 p.m. until the food runs out, volunteers will be serving up a free meal, catered by Jessica Alfreds Homemade and friends, on Thanksgiving Day to anyone who has been displaced by superstorm Sandy. So far organizers have raised lots of money towards their goal, but they still need financial donations, food donations and volunteers to help serve everything up. Anyone interested in the meal, it will be held at St. Marks Church in the Bowery.
Thanksgiving is a very busy time for food banks and shelters, both in terms of people in need and volunteers eager to help, but Greenpoint Church, on 136 Milton Street, is still open to volunteers and food donations. They will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, November 21, and need help from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. distributing food pantry items and prepping for the feast. They have also been busy making meals for victims of Sandy, and need volunteers to cook meals on Monday and Tuesday for lunch and dinner. Visit their website or Facebook for more information. (Anne Saunders)
If you have a few extra chairs around your Thanksgiving table this year, you may want to consider hosting a displaced family for the meal. A Facebook group called Hurricane Sandy Thanksgiving Adopt a Family for Dinner is pairing up families in need with volunteer families to share the holiday meal. If you're interested in hosting a family, just write a post on the group's wall and the organizer will pair you up with an interested family. Likewise, if you are displaced and want to find a place to celebrate the holiday, you can write a wall post or message the page directly. The service is open to residents of both New York and New Jersey.
On Staten Island, a group of alumni from St. Joseph Hill has set up a food collection site at the Promaster Gourmet at 1888 Hylan Boulevard. From 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, bring your prepared Thanksgiving dishes to the housewares store where the volunteers will distribute families in need. If you'd like to donate a dish, contact Alexis Garbarino at 917-560-5974 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Food Bank for NYC is anticipating a larger turnout this year and they're asking for volunteers to spend time at their meal distribution centers to help out for Thanksgiving. If you're interested in volunteering, visit this page. If you aren't able to donate time, you can donate to the emergency fund by texting FBNYC to 50555 or visiting this page.
The Bowery Mission—which continued to operate its shelter and soup kitchen without power for nearly a week—has seen the amount of people coming through its door triple since Hurricane Sandy, with a particular increase in the amount of women and children. They've also been traveling to housing projects nearby to bring hot meals to residents who have been stranded and have been coordinating with churches and organizations on the Rockaways and Staten Island as well. Needless to say, they will need lots of supplies for the coming weeks and beyond. To make up the 9,000 meals they anticipate dishing out for Thanksgiving, the shelter is seeking donations of any non-perishable food items (particularly canned goods and stuffing for Thanksgiving meals), which can be delivered to their space at 227 Bowery 24 hours a day. They are also hoping to give out "Blessing Bags" to every person who comes through the door, so they are in need of winter clothing (hats, scarves, gloves) and travel/hotel-sized toiletries. At this time they have pre-registered 500 volunteers for next week but they say that walk-ins are welcome. An announcement about plans for Rockaway and Staten Island Thanksgiving dinners should be on their website in a few days, so check back for more information.
It won't just be us plebes volunteering this Thanksgiving. Hizzoner himself will be volunteering his time by carving turkey at a local soup kitchen, he announced on his radio show this morning. Just don't leave him unattended around the bird: "When nobody's looking, [I'll] take a little piece of crisp skin...with my fingers."