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In COVID-19, the Bread of Life Thanksgiving Food Drive is now a drive for all seasons

Posted on November 23, 2020 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share


Vincent Ignizio, CEO of Catholic Charities of Staten Island, Joe Delaney, Exec. Director of Notre Dame Bread of Life, Michelle LaVignera, Director of Social Services Catholic Charities of SI , and Claire Atalla, COO of Catholic Charities of SI. (Courtesy Tom Ventrudo)

Article originally publsihed on SlLive.com 

By Dr. Gracelyn Santos | gsantos@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Notre Dame Club of Staten Island’s Thanksgiving Bread of Life Food Drive (BOLD) looks a little different this year, in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only will there be a food drive this Saturday, but donations will be accepted year-round, as more Staten Islanders find themselves in need of help.

“This year has been such a different experience because we are no longer serving our usual clients who are the homeless, elderly, and people in need,” said Joseph Delaney, the executive director of the Notre Dame Club of Staten Island BOLD, and chairman of the board of Catholic Charities.

“Now, people going to the food pantries are going there for the first time in their lives,” he said. “Some people coming to us are even people who may have even contributed to food drives in the past.

“Because of the pandemic, many have lost their jobs — some households have two breadwinners out of work — and food is a hardship. So many people have come to the Notre Dame Club and asked for help.

“Our food drive is no longer a spring food drive. BOLD is now a year around program to provide food for people in-need.”

Tom Ventrudo, President of the Notre Dame Club agreed. “The food we provide to our 26 recipient organizations go not only to the homeless, the elderly, the infirmed, but to people who are out of work, and need the food we must continue to provide.”

The Notre Dame Club works in partnership with organizations and businesses to feed the hungry on Staten Island. “We go around, ask our friends in different businesses like our labor union friends, and ask for help,” said Delaney. “Sure enough, God provides and people make donations to us.”

THANKSGIVING FOOD DRIVE THIS SATURDAY

“Our middle name, is ‘How can we help you?’ and this weekend we have two operations underway,” said Delaney. “We are working in partnership with St Vincent’s De Paul Society of Saint Thomas Church in Pleasant Plains.”

The Thanksgiving food drive is this Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted in the parking lot of Saint Thomas Church, 15 Maguire Avenue, Pleasant Plains.

“We have this thing called ‘drive in, drop off,’ where you pull up with your car, hand the food to someone wearing a mask outside your car, and you’re on your way.”

Donated food will be packed in boxes — 100 boxes have been donated by the Notre Dame Club — put in vans, and taken over to Catholic Charities on Anderson Avenue for distribution.

“Individuals and organizations come to me because they know I work with the Notre Dame Club,” said Delaney. “And if they don’t have a recipient organization, I tell them Catholic Charities is grateful for donations, as well.

 

NOTRE DAME CLUB, SHOPRITE AND SOUTH RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL

For the past dozen years, the Notre Dame Club has partnered with Kevin Mannix and ShopRite. “This Saturday, Kevin is donating turkeys for many non-profits that work for people in need,” said Delaney.

“This great man’s generosity is not just a ‘pandemic’ donation, but rather, a donation made year after year.” In addition, The Notre Dame Club is donating turkeys to South Richmond High School, located in Tottenville, in Mount Loretto.

“South Richmond High School has a unique population of a lot of kids at risk and those kids come from all over the island,” said Delaney. “There’s a grammar school there at P.S. 25 that they work with closely to keep children to keep on the straight narrow path.”

One of the courses that they have there is a culinary arts course where they teach kids skills to possibly go into the food services industry.

“In the past, the faculty and the students used the donated turkeys from the Notre Dame Club and ShopRite and cooked up a Thanksgiving feast on the campus of Mt. Loretto,” added Delaney.

Because of the recent closure of NYC schools by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dinner has been cancelled this year. However, the turkeys will still be donated.

“COVID-19 may have postponed Thanksgiving, but there will be a turkey celebration for these students, thanks to Bread of Life and ShopRite.”

 

BOLD IN THE YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC

“Pre-COVID, BOLD used to be just a springtime food drive which collected food from about 31 organizations and we did a great job,” said Delaney. “We’d have an army of Staten Island community volunteers from faith-based organizations, labor unions, civic organizations, and small businesses on “Bread of Life Saturday” at Monsignor Farrell High School, starting 6 a.m.

“Thousands of items were sorted, packed into boxes, and delivered the food to 26 local food banks and pantries across Staten Island that serve the homeless, the elderly, the infirmed, along with families in need.

“We collect 70,000 items usually, but since we couldn’t collect food this year, we did a virtual food drive by collecting money and giving it to the organizations to buy gift cards for food and to give to the residents themselves.”

Over $105,000 were collected and then distributed to the 26 recipient organizations on Staten Island in the form of checks to buy food or food gift cards from ShopRite.

“The new reality of hunger growing across Staten Island, during this COVID pandemic, has caused the Bread of Life to double-down on their mission to “feed the hungry” as Christ taught us, and to do it year-around,” said Delaney.