New immigrants celebrate first Thanksgiving with NYC Catholic charities

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, MANHATTAN (WABC)– Thursday marks the first Thanksgiving for thousands of new immigrants to New York City, as many arrived from Latin and South America just months ago.

Catholic charities welcomed them with a holiday lunch to make them feel at home.

The tradition of the Alianza Division of Catholic Charities is a Thanksgiving dinner for those in need in the Washington Heights community — but this year they’ve reached out to the newest families.

“This year we really wanted to welcome our asylum-seeking families, we’ve worked with them, they’ve stayed at a neighborhood motel and they’re participating in our after-school programs,” said Eddie Silverio, Catholic Charity Community Services division manager.

Thanksgiving may be an entirely new holiday for those celebrating it for the first time, like 8-year-old Gretel from Ecuador, but the concept makes perfect sense.

“Es algo como pasar en familia compartir la comida, esas cosas así.”

She says it’s about being with family and eating together.

And 12-year-old Shari is from Colombia.

“Sirve para agradecer todo lo que tenemos.”

She says Thanksgiving is gratitude for all we have.

And since it took place at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, Thanksgiving is also known as something many Spanish speakers in the US call:

“San Giving, you got it! We call it San Giving.”

Traditional Thanksgiving turkey was on the menu along with San Giving specialties.

“We have flan, we have tres leches, so we’re keeping it Latino tradition,” Silverio said. “We have a bit of pernil (pork) alongside the pavo (turkey).”

There were also a few goodie bags to take home and a bit of entertainment to lighten the mood, including traditional dancing and interactive fun from the People’s Theater Project, all about welcoming the newest New Yorkers.

“This has been a long journey for many of the families here today and we took a moment to breathe and remember that we are powerful and we can do anything and this is just the beginning,” said Mino Lora of People’s Theater Project.

ALSO READ | Corn Kid donates 90,000 cans of vegetables to New York Food Rescue for Thanksgiving

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