Hosted by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, the event distributed bags filled with frozen turkeys and food vouchers to families in need, enabling them to still enjoy Thanksgiving despite the ongoing pandemic.
Now in its sixth year, the turkey giveaway has become a staple of Catholic Charities holiday programming. This year alone, the organization handed out nearly 3,000 birds at three separate events in Prospect Lefferts Garden, Jamaica, and Corona.
“Every year the numbers have increased,” said Richard Slizeski, an organizer at Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “Said and done, this year we will have given away nearly 3,000 turkeys, our most ever.”
The turkey giveaway is made possible by a number of generous donations, including 700 turkeys from siblings Al and Maria Catanese, continuing a tradition their parents started.
Additional turkeys were supplied by EJ Electric, New York City District Council of Carpenters, Steamfitters Union, Univision, and volunteers from Our Lady of Sorrows.
“It’s not just about giving away the food,” Slizeski continued. “It’s about accompanying people through this difficult time.”
Traditionally, the turkey giveaway event also includes potatoes, cranberries, and other foods. However, this year Catholic Charities distributed food vouchers instead in order to minimize hand-to-hand contact during the pandemic.
The food vouchers are eligible at a number of stores throughout Queens and Booklyn, and will allow families to still acquire the Thanksgiving staples they need.
“Thanksgiving is about two things: family and food,” added Father Patrick Keating from Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “So we try to help families that are struggling to enjoy the holiday. We are lucky to be assisted by so many volunteers too. I think people really want to help one another.”
In addition to the turkeys and food vouchers, Monday’s event offered free COVID-19 and Flu vaccines to everyone in attendance. Since January 2021, Catholic Charities Brooklyn has facilitated 1,842 COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals in communities throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
The organization’s pandemic relief efforts are ongoing, including biweekly pop-up food pantries, housing services, family services, and mental health counselling.