NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thanksgiving kicks off the season of giving and many around the Tri-State area are spending their turkey day by helping those in need.
Many charities and places of worship have opened their doors Thursday to serve Thanksgiving meals to the hungry.
At the First Corinthian Baptist Church on West 116th Street, the food is not only home cooked by volunteers, it’s served in a way that feels more like a restaurant, complete with table clothes, menus and a wait staff to take orders, CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported.
The menu, of course, is all Thanksgiving goodies including turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie.
The volunteers will work in shifts all day. One group from the Omega Psi Phi fraternity in Harlem said it’s an annual reunion where they get to do something helpful together, Rincon reported.
“We want to contribute back to the community. We want to help out and feed those that need to be fed on this grateful day,” Jamel Nederman said.
“It’s something that we do and we’ve been doing this since 1911 and we’re still doing it. So I’m happy to be with the brothers from all over the country and serve. That’s what we do, we serve for the community every year,” said Randy Walker.
Meanwhile, the Bowery Mission says it expects to serve more than 7,000 meals across New York City this Thanksgiving.
And the organization got some celebrity help for the breakfast shift from actress Bridget Moynahan, of the CBS drama “Blue Bloods.” Moynahan served bacon, eggs, and potatoes at the Bowery’s Lower Manhattan location.
The organization has helped homeless, poor, and hungry New Yorkers since 1879.
“A lot of people here who are appreciative of the warm meal, the hot meal. And there’s a lot of amazing volunteers who’ve shown up to serve the meals, help clean up and just provide a really nice environment for the people in need,” said Moynahan.
The mission said it will have five shifts of volunteers serving Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Other New Yorkers had a celebrity sighting on Thanksgiving in their own homes.
Actress Kathleen Turner helped deliver Thanksgiving meals for Citymeals-on-Wheels to some homebound elderly residents in the Flatiron District.
“Usually we serve turkey. We serve some sweet potato. We serve green beans. Oh, pumpkin pie! How could I forget that?” the “Romancing the Stone” actress told WCBS 880.
Citymeals-on-Wheels, with the help of Dos Caminos restaurant on Park Avenue, delivered 400 meals in the Flatiron District and on the Lower East Side.
Turner, a board member for Citymeals-on-Wheels, wasn’t the only star giving back to the community this week. On Monday, “Empire” actress Raquel Castro and her Long Island family helped Island Harvest Food Bank deliver some 300 turkeys to families in need.
“It just gives me a really good feeling to help out, and it’ll make my holiday better to help other people’s holidays,” the 21-year-old actress told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
“We just want to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Meanwhile, area residents were preparing a wide range of dishes for Thanksgiving dinner.
One woman who is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, was cooking up a Southern feast.
“I have turkey, ham. I have seven slabs of ribs,” she told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “I’m making potato salad, shrimp salad. I’ve got a big family!
“You just eat, eat, eat till your tummy says stop,” she added.
Eddie said he’s frying a turkey, but he isn’t sure he’ll have room for it after the appetizers.
“Deviled eggs and stuffed clams, yes,” he said. “Even patalitos (small beef patties) we have.”
Two ladies said they do a Caribbean number on the big bird.
“We put butter, pineapples. We put cherries. You name it, it’s on the turkey,” one of the women said, adding they baste it in honey and sugar.
But not everyone will be serving turkey. One young Dominican lady, who plans to wear sweatpants, said her mother will roast a pork shoulder instead.