Hundreds of volunteers have been working since dawn Tuesday to pack Thanksgiving meals for residents of New York City shelters.
Around 500 adults and children donated their time at Chelsea Piers on November 22, working tirelessly to pack thousands of meals for those who would not otherwise have dinner this bank holiday. The donations are organized by FeedingNYC, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing underprivileged families the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The initiative was launched in 2001 by Robert LoCascio after the September 11 terrorist attacks to help those in need. The giveaway has continued for the past two decades and survived the COVID-19 pandemic to bring joy to families across the five boroughs.
“Today we will feed 8,500 families with full turkey meals, frozen turkey and all the trimmings. So from what you see here, we’re basically packing all the boxes with about 500 volunteers. And then we go in trucks and we go all over the shelters in New York City where there are homeless families and we feed them these turkey foods,” LoCascio told the New York Metro. “To be able to show up and give them something to sit at a table with and enjoy that one moment. It is wonderful.”
At Pier 60, volunteers of all ages spent the morning arranging boxes, packing frozen turkeys, juice, canned goods and more. The meals were not only packed on Tuesday, but shipped the same day. Loaded trucks drove through the five boroughs, bringing the good news to the front doors of those who needed it most.
Christine Quinn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Win, the largest provider of housing, social services and supportive housing for homeless families in New York City, thanked for the meals. A majority of the bounty will go to those in the Win Shelter system. In 2022, many shelter residents are asylum seekers fleeing hardship, and Quinn believes her first Thanksgiving will be the most significant.
“We have 5,000 people a night, 2,500 of them are children at the moment. 700 of the children are refugee children. We don’t have the money to buy all of these items, which means our families wouldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner without FeedingNYC. Everyone at the shelter has suffered some kind of trauma. But these [migrant] Families have suffered trauma on a level that is difficult for us Americans to understand. They are grateful in a way that is truly indescribable,” Quinn said. “I hope in the future Thanksgiving will be remembered as the day New York stood behind them.”
In addition to those receiving the meals, volunteers were grateful for their help. Barry Lamm has been donating his time since the first Packing event over twenty years ago. Lamm said on the New York Metro that over the years he’s learned the importance of donations like this.
“One of the most profound experiences I have ever had was when we were at a delivery and the truck contained a few extra turkeys. Neighborhood people lined up in front of the truck and when we pulled out we were ready to close the doors to go to the last stop, you could see the panic in their eyes. So that’s where it really hit me,” Lamm said. “You tend to think, oh, someone else will do it. Another organization will do it. That was the first time for me where I thought, wow, if we weren’t here these people wouldn’t be eating.”
This year, FeedingNYC said it would be 100,000. will have delivered Thanksgiving dinners to New Yorkers in need.