Employees of Mid Island Collision and volunteers from Long Island Cares, the Harry Chapin Foundation, worked together Tuesday morning to load boxes of Thanksgiving food donations into trucks outside the Rockville Centre repair shop, with the hope of feeding at least 10,000 hungry families on Long Island this year.
From chicken to yams, both the mechanic shop and nonprofit hunger relief nonprofit group purchased food that would end up on the dinner tables of needy 40,000 Long Islanders who aren’t fortunate enough to create a spread of assorted Thanksgiving sides for a family dinner this holiday season.
“The people that are hurt by this economy—you read about, you hear about—it’s the ones that you don’t hear about, which is almost 80 percent of the people that don’t go to food missions or emergency places for support,” said Robert Jesberger, owner of Mid Island Collision.
At the bustling repair shop, volunteers plucked boxes from large piles and placed them onto pallets before unloading the boxes into dozens of cars and trucks that started pulling up outside the repair shop as early as 5 a.m. Tuesday. The event didn’t halt business at the repair shop, however. Mechanics were working on vehicles on one side of the shop, while pallet jacks rolled in and out as boxes of food were emptied into cars.
In an effort to try and feed as many people as possible, Long Island Cares decided to purchase chickens instead of turkeys this year because the price for the traditional Thanksgiving bird was too exorbitant this year. Recipients will still have the usual Thanksgiving sides and desserts on Thursday.
Paule Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares, said the chicken decision allowed the nonprofit to buy 20 more percent more food than usual.
“Well of course Thanksgiving time the community’s awareness is heightened because of the issue of hunger,” Pachter said of the significance of donating food during this time of year. “And you know to us Thanksgiving is 365 days a year, but right now, the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas, if the community has the ability to support the local pantry that’s what they should do.”
He encourages people to donate non-perishable foods and frozen turkey to local pantry’s or soup kitchens to help the estimated 320,000 people on Long Island who are hungry, which is up about 30 percent from last year because of unemployment, said Pachter.
“Too many people have lost their jobs, too many people are struggling to get by and this is the time of the year when we reach out to the community to be aware…but frankly its all year long that the hungry need your support,” he said.