Community Centers Prepare Meals For Thousands

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of people were out making sure Thursday that people in need could get a hot meal on Thanksgiving.

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As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, pumpkin bisque soup, roasted turkey and apple crisp were among the dishes that made their way into homemade decorated bags by volunteers at God’s Love We Deliver.

“I know how much I like to eat,” said one volunteer named Lawrence.

God’s Love We Deliver had more than 900 people putting together thousands of meals for people with life-altering illness such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.

“People are here on their day off, on their Thanksgiving, where they’re expressing that gratitude for all sorts of things,” Lawrence said.

For Ros from Manhattan, she said giving her time on Thanksgiving morning was her way of saying thanks.

“My son had AIDS, and he was only on the program for three month,” she said. “And when he died, because I saw they brought him food, it was fabulous.”

The organization also donates an extra meal so their clients don’t have to eat alone.

Hundreds of volunteers also took the time out from their holiday to get into the spirit of giving at the Goddard Riverside Community Center on the Upper West Side.

As CBS 2’s Alex Denis reported for TV 10/55’s “The Couch,” volunteers there were up before dawn to prepare meals for those in need.

“The wonderful thing about this event is that Goddard Riverside, we’ve been sponsoring this event for the last 40 years, and it’s all driven by volunteers – every turkey, every pie, every piece of bread is donated; there are 300 volunteers from the community,” said Goddard Riverside executive director Stephan Russo, “and actually, it’s gotten so popular over the years that people have come from Staten Island; from Queens, and also from Yonkers and outside of the city, and they know they want to be here at Goddard Riverside to serve probably 1,000 people that we will serve.”

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The sentiment of giving back was felt among all the Goddard Riverside volunteers.

24 “I wake up in the morning and I’m as excited as can be to get here and see the people that come in,” said center co-chairman Peter Meyer.

They live to serve their community and are anxious to give of their time, talent, and treasures.

“We cross the divide between the rich and poor and I think today, more than ever before, it’s really needed,” Russo said.

This year’s Thanksgiving feast the center was piled high with homemade herb stuffing, fresh vegetables, every dessert imaginable, and of course, turkey. Each table was set with care and topped off with fresh-cut flowers.

Local musicians were set to entertain while the guests receive table-side service.

“They’re in a situation that’s not very pleasant sometimes,” said volunteer Renauld White. “We want them to come here and feel at home.”

Even the youngest volunteer understood the special spirit of service.

“For me to give food to people, it feels like something good to do since I get a lot of food on Thanksgiving, and a big meal with all my family, to give some nice food to people that don’t get that,” said volunteer Mira Dubler-Furman, 10.

Goddard Riverside also delivers about 300 home-delivered meals. Russo noted that even on the affluent Upper West Side, a tremendous need for food remains.

Goddard Riverside operates 365 days a year helping people and delivering food. The agency serves about 300,000 meals a year.

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