Community Board 10 got into the giving spirit on Mon., Nov. 19 when its members doubled down on the group’s annual donation to a local food pantry.
Each November, the board – which represents the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights – asks its members to bring non-perishable food items to its general meeting to be donated to the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry at St. Patrick’s.
The donations are made each year in memory of former board member Helen Sokoloski.
Jim and Mary Beth Lamond attended the meeting – held at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center, 9941 Fort Hamilton Parkway – to discuss the yearly donation’s impact on those the pantry serves.
“We’ve been coming here for a very, very long time – probably well over 10 years,” Jim told the room. “I can’t remember exactly when but I know exactly why – because Helen Sokoloski called my wife Mary Beth and said, ‘We’re interested in helping you.’”
Now, years later, the board continues to carry her torch.
“I’m here to thank you for your help,” Jim said. “Every year, we bring in some food and some money, which, of course, is also helpful.”
But, thanks to one of the nabe’s newest elected officials – and the group’s goodwill – the couple ended up walking away with even more than they’d expected.
Fresh off her victory and induction, Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus came bearing the gift of five fully-cooked turkey dinners, which the board intended to raffle off to audience members.
However, before winning tickets were called, board member Steve Harrison led the charge in handing over his chance to Jim.
“I’d like to donate mine to you because I think that somebody could use it,” Harrison said, his gesture sparking a trend, which left the Lamonds with a handful of tickets – and, ultimately, a handful of turkey dinners.
The pantry – based out of St. Patrick’s Church, 9511 Fourth Avenue – services the northern end of Bay Ridge from about 86th Street up, an area, Jim said, is often overlooked when it comes to these types of services.
“We’ve grown to the point where, in 2017, we had one week where we had over 80 people and this year, in the last four weeks, we’ve had three where we’ve had over 80,” he told the board. “It’s a real need. There are people who say, ‘Bay Ridge? A food pantry? I can’t believe it,’ but if you live here, you know what’s going on.”
Lamond also urged those in attendance to feel free to recommend to pantry to anyone they know that might be in need.
“Although we’re associated with the Catholic Church, our doors are open to anyone who lives in the area,” Jim said, adding that the pantry – which is open every Tuesday afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m. – planned to hand out up to 132 Thanksgiving baskets this week alone.