UJA Official: 'We Stand Together On Issue Of Caring For Those Most In Need'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A larger crowd than usual was on hand for the annual distribution of holiday food baskets at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center in Harlem on Tuesday.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Catholic charities and the Jewish organization UJA-Federation assisted in the Thanksgiving food distribution and have joined in a larger fight against hunger.

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WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports

“In too many parts of the world, religion is looked upon as a force that divides, and not in New York. We wanted to be a force that unites and that reconciles and that lifts people up,” Dolan told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

The religious charities have partnered to help New York soup kitchens and food pantries in this time of higher demand partly due to superstorm Sandy.

“We need, all of us, need to do everything we can for the people devastated by the hurricane,” said John Ruskay with the UJA. “And then, however, we have the chronic issue of poverty.”

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Ruskay said that despite the religious differences of the organizations involved, there is a common set of principles that are followed.

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“We stand together on the issue of caring for those most in need, people left out,” Ruskay told Murnane.

Dolan donned a red apron as he helped hand out the makings of a holiday feast to dozens of people.

“Thanksgiving is America at its best and this day is New York at its best,” Dolan said. “Even though overwhelmingly good news about the compassionate response over Hurricane Sandy, has that ever been inspirational, what we’re worried about – there’s always compassion fatigue.”

Ruskay said the goal of the interfaith effort is to reach out to victims of Sandy and those who struggle in what he called the ‘second New York.’

“Don’t get as much. You need to go to at least three pantries to get enough to last you,” meal recipient Steve Hannibal told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

On Monday, the Food Bank for New York City released a report that found the number of food pantries and soup kitchens is down 25 percent compared with five years ago.

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