United Way Helps Prepare 1,000 Meals, But Only 600 Needed On Coney Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In Coney Island, some free meals for victims of Superstorm Sandy went untouched. Maybe the area is finally starting to get back to normal somewhat.

Of the 1,000 hot meals prepared for lunch at Our Lady of Solace Church on Friday, about 600 were served.

The United Way teamed up with Michael Scott Caterers to provide the post-Thanksgiving meals, which were distributed by volunteers who came from all over the city.

As CBS 2’s Steve Langford found out, things may be looking up in the devastated Brooklyn neighborhood.

More: 5 Great Ways To Give Back In New York City

Caterer Michael Waiser and his staff were up before dawn on Friday to prepare the food.

“It’s good to see with all the other stuff that’s going on in the world, underlying it all is still a lot of good hearts,” Waiser said.

For those who craved the comfort of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, there was no mistaking the gratitude.

Just ask 11-year-old Ociel Vazquez.

Vazquez was joined by part of his family, as they took a warm break from a month of hardship. His father was confined at home, after suffering a broken leg during the storm.

“They’re so kind to people that lost things, just seeing them happy, not sad, ’cause of the stuff just happened,” Vazquez said. “And they just come to help people and see people smile.”

But, surprisingly, the turnout for the meal in the heart of Coney Island was slim. Close to a month after Superstorm Sandy struck, the crushing needs of basic sustenance may be easing.

“It seems people are picking up the pieces a little bit, so it’s kind of nice and heartening to see,” volunteer Jenny Song said.

But the road back to normalcy will not be an overnight thing.

“There’s going to be a long term recovery and rebuilding effort that we’ve really got to make sure plays out,” said Sheena Wright, president of the United Way New York City.

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