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Operation Gobbler Giving feeds families

Families registered with Reaching-Out Community Services (RCS) had a lot more than warm weather to be thankful for on Monday, November 24.

The nearly 70-degree day turned out over 700 families for Reaching-Out’s annual Operation Gobbler Giving—an outdoor event held on New Utrecht Avenue to provide low-income families with a full Thanksgiving meal.

Executive Director/Founder of RCS, Thomas Neve, who started the organization 24 years ago, kept with the Thanksgiving tradition and spoke about the gratitude he has for the people and companies that contributed to the event.

“It’s not just what I do myself, but it’s all those who volunteer and the wonderful companies and organizations that also contribute to this effort,” Neve said. “I’m thankful for CPEX Real Estate, the Transit Managerial Benevolent Association, along with the Verrazano Rotary, who helped us secure this event. City Harvest distributed almost 380 turkeys and the Food Bank helped with the turkeys as well.”

In addition to turkeys, the families collected stuffing, fruits and vegetables, and other trimmings to make up a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Also, for the first time in Operation Gobbler Giving’s almost eight-year run, Andrew Zurica, owner of Hard Times Sundaes, a Mill Basin-based food truck that serves burgers and Italian ices, was there to hand out free turkey burgers and sweet potato fries to the families waiting on line.

“I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I’ve been on the right side and the wrong side. To help somebody every now and again, it’s my pleasure,” said Zurica.

The effort really makes a difference. “For the last three and half years, if it wasn’t for this food pantry, I would have starved,” said attendee Rosemarie B. “This is for everybody and anybody that needs help. They [RCS] are very, very good people.”

CPEX Real Estate Services, a Brooklyn-based real estate company, came with 15 volunteers to help hand out food. “It’s a great charity, run for great purposes, to help families in need for the holidays,” said Sean Kelly, managing director at CPEX.

“You just want people to have a good holiday. If you can help, why not?” added CPEX Associate Director George Danut.

Neve was thankful that the event saw a “tremendous” turnout this year. “These people [volunteers and contributors] made this happen. As much as I have a desire to help, without that kind of support, I wouldn’t be able to secure this,” said Neve.

Reaching-Out now reaches nearly 5,700 families. In addition to the food pantry, the organization offers help with social services, ESL classes, free tax preparation, summer tutoring, and nutritional classes. For more information about the organization, visit http://rcsprograms.org/.

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