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Giving Thanks: 1,000 Turkeys And Trimmings Distributed To Families And Soup Kitchens

Joseph P. Kennedy Center In Harlem And CCNY’s Feed Our Neighbors Helps Hundreds During Thanks Giving


A Catholic Charities volunteer distrubutes turkeys & fresh produce among other items at the annual Turkey Day Celebration on 11/24/20 // Takao Araki 

By Jessica O’Connor

The sun did not fail to shine through as Catholic Charities volunteers, staff, and clients gathered outdoors on a crisp autumn morning to celebrate the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution at the LT. Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem. Families and individuals started a socially distanced outdoor line with their carts at 6:30 in the morning in anticipation of the 9:00 am opening. Greeted by beautiful hymns of praise to God sung by staff with a microphone in the front parking lot, individuals and families processed through to the back lot with carts and rolling bags to receive fixings for their Thanksgiving meal.

New York’s Cardinal Dolan, Catholic Charities’ Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Kennedy Center’s Deacon Rodney Beckford, and various members of the clergy welcomed guests arriving for their food and offered words of friendship, encouragement, and solidarity during this difficult time. Volunteers had packed 200 bags each of non-perishable food items (stuffing mix, rice, green beans, cranberry sauce, corn muffin mix, and juice) and of fresh produce (carrots, onions, and potatoes) to offer our neighbors along with a frozen turkey, a gallon of whole milk, a warm greeting, and a smile.

Catholic Charities’ Feeding our Neighbors Program hosts the Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution each year as a special addition to our ongoing food distribution activities in 40 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city. This year, the event distributed a total of 1,000 turkeys: 500 to families who participate in our programs and case management services, and 500 to our affiliate agencies. “It’s not just about food, it’s about hope,” explained Dianne Johnson, Director of Community Outreach Services. “A bag of food can ward off hunger, but it can also provide hope amidst the gloom and doom. A bag of food, a bag of hope.”

This holiday season, we are grateful for all our friends, volunteers, and contributors to the Feeding Our Neighbors program who help to make events such as the annual turkey distribution possible. We are blessed by the resilience and gratitude that our neighbors express in the midst of their own suffering and in the face of the COVID pandemic: the woman with eight children at home asking for an extra gallon of milk to nourish her family, the elderly woman with a cane who can only accept one bag of food due to its weight, and the mother pushing her baby’s carriage as she waits in line on a chilly day. We invite you to join us in prayer or direct service as we prepare to meet any upcoming challenges that our city may face with compassion, courage, unity, and hope.

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