Dozens of families on Long Island went shopping for Thanksgiving in recent weeks to pick up the necessary ingredients and assorted sides, but some of the food they picked up won’t make it to their own dinner table in two weeks. Instead, those families personally donated food to less fortunate Long Islanders who can’t afford to put together a Thanksgiving feast of their own this year.
So while many on the Island enjoyed festivities for Veterans Day on Friday, kids of all ages and their parents knocked on doors and handed baskets to the recipients, filled with canned goods, pies, yams, stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkeys—everything a family needs to enjoy the holiday.
“We’ve all learned all the different opportunities that we have to give back to our community,” said Erika Weisberg, a volunteer with UJA-Federation of New York, who sponsored the donation. “Especially at this time when people are in such need that it just gives hope for people to realize that we are all the same.”
The morning for most of the volunteers started at UJA’s Long Island headquarters in Syosset, where they were treated to breakfast and were given a short pep talk before they scattered the baskets all across Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The event was titled “Families Helping Families,” which starts with adopting a family for Thanksgiving and then delivering the basket in person.
Inside the office building, a long table was loaded with baskets and bags full of food. Tissues, napkins, roasting pans and aluminum foil were stuffed underneath. Kids and parents chatted up and discussed their game plan before embarking on their mission to feed the needy.
Some baskets neatly wrapped in cellophane read “Happy Thanksgiving.” Those who donated, but couldn’t personally deliver the food, left a small note with the donated food.
And on a day when most kids were out enjoying their day off from school by hanging out with friends, kids at UJA were fine with spending their day helping those in need.
“I think its been great,” said Marla Kaminsky with her two daughters at her side. “It’s been a great thing to show the kids to actually see and have a picture of different kinds of families that need UJA’s help.”
Kaminsky and her kids have been personally handing out baskets for the last five years, allowing them to see all different kinds of people who need help during the holidays.
With Long Island’s unemployment rate just under 7 percent, according to the latest reports, there’s still plenty of people struggling to provide food for their families all year round, not just when the holiday season arrives.
Said Kaminsky’s 11-year-old daughter: “It’s a nice thing to help other families who don’t have a Thanksgiving like our family does.”