UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Turkeys, hams, fresh produce, dairy products — enough to feed thousands of Long Island families — were distributed Monday amid tears of gratitude.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, Nicoletta Trakosas of Elmont was in one of 3,000 cars outside Nassau Coliseum, hoping to get a box filled with a Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings.

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“It’s a really difficult situation with COVID going on, with us not working and what they are doing is wonderful,” she said.

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“Have you ever been in a food line before?” McLogan asked.

“Never. It’s my first time, and I’m 61 years old,” she said.

Food banks like Island Harvest say the pandemic has created the most challenging food crisis they have ever faced.

“The need through Island Harvest is 100% of what it was last year. Food insecurity is real, economic insecurity is real,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“It means a lot. There’s sometimes we can’t buy food,” said 11-year-old Genesis Maldonado.

Hundreds of volunteers came to the rescue Monday.

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“First, I asked my mom what I could do to help give back to the community,” said 15-year-old volunteer Jason Mack.

“I get more out of it than I give,” Al Foranzo said.

“It makes us feel wonderful,” Amy Foranzo added.

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Last year, the Lugos of Levittown passed out turkeys.

“For many years, I volunteered,” one said.

This year, they’re on the receiving end.

“It’s a relief. We don’t have to worry about feeding our kids,” one added.

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Many of them were laid off or furloughed and they haven’t received unemployment money or stimulus money. So, they waited in line after finding it hard to ask for help.

“How difficult it was for them to actually drive up to the food line because it was such a humbling experience, to ask for food for the first time,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest.

“There is good still in this world, and for people to care so much,” said Simone Ferebee.

Her family can now look forward to Thanksgiving. Her message to the pantry and volunteers?

“When I get up there if I could hug them, I would,” she said.

A dramatic surge of giving, and thanking.

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