Business and civic leaders from Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Bay Ridge joined together to help ensure that Thanksgiving would be a special holiday for neighbors in need who otherwise would go without.
Over 600 turkeys, plus hams, sweet potatoes and all the trimmings were donated to Reaching-Out Community Services Inc., a nonprofit Bensonhurst-based charity that has fed thousands of hungry families in Southwest Brooklyn, according to Thomas Neve, the founder and executive director of the organization.
The group, which operates a food pantry out of a storefront at 7708 New Utrecht Ave., distributes hundreds of free turkeys at its Operation Gobbler Giving event each year. The distribution traditionally takes place on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and City Harvest provides all the trimmings to go along with the turkey.
On Mon., Nov. 19, the line in front of Reaching-Out stretched around a city block as hundreds waited to pick up their free holiday meals from a sidewalk full of vendors. And as a special treat, Tom the Turkey was there to help greet those waiting in line.
Rotary Club of Verrazzano member Vinny Nativo said that his group helps support Reaching-Out by donating money every month to help feed the hungry. “And then around Thanksgiving we up the donations,” Nativo said.
Zanita Tisdale, director of member engagement at Food Bank for New York City, explained that her organization recently launched a five-borough turkey tour.
“And today we’re here in Brooklyn,” Tisdale told this paper. “Through Food Bank’s partnership with Stop and Shop, we were able to provide our member network with 2,000 turkeys, some of which are being distributed right here at Reaching-Out Community Services.”
Neve explained that this was his organization’s 13th annual Operation Gobbler Giving. “A lot of people say, ‘thanks for what you do,’ but it’s really not all about us but about our sponsors like the Rotary Club of Verrazano, the Food Bank for New York City, City Harvest; these are the people that make it happen,” Neve said.
“The Food Bank of New York City donated over 200 turkeys and the Rotary Club of Verrazano donated 235 turkeys,” he added. “We have over 600 in total. This day is because of all the wonderful sponsors that made it happen.”
City Councilmember Justin Brannan walked up and down the line greeting people. “This is what Tom does every single day with Reaching-Out Community Services,” Brannan said. “This is just the culmination of all the work Reaching-Out does all year round. Just look at the people lining up because it’s all about just giving back. As long we’re okay and our families are okay, we have to give back. It’s your obligation as a human being to give back to those who are less fortunate.”