A thankful Brooklyn: Turkey Day giveaways feed families across the borough

Brooklynites across the borough gave back while giving thanks this Thanksgiving.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The second pandemic-era Thanksgiving has come and gone, and many Brooklynites are beginning to emerge from their food comas to return to the groove of daily life. But the holiday can be a painful time for the one in five New Yorkers facing food insecurity, unable to afford a bountiful Turkey Day meal.

In true Kings County fashion, however, Brooklynites stepped up over the holiday weekend to ensure that everyone who wanted a Thanksgiving meal could get one.

Before Thursday rolled around, nonprofits and charitable Brooklynites gave away thousands of turkeys to ensure no one celebrated Thanksgiving on an empty stomach. Reaching Out Community Services gave away over 900 turkeys at its annual Operation Gobbler Giving event on Nov. 22, outside its food pantry on New Utrecht Avenue in Bensonhurst.

“It’s just to allow everybody to kind of join the rest of us as we sit with our family and have a turkey dinner and a little feast to make things a little more cheerful for the holiday,” said Reaching Out executive director Tom Neve in a video from the event posted on YouTube.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes said at Operation Gobbler Giving that the giveaway helped make hundreds of families whole at their dinner table.

“We’re gonna make hundreds of families very happy this Thanksgiving when they sit down to have their holiday meal,” Gounardes said. “This is a very tough time for a lot of folks in our neighborhood. If you have the ability to give back in some way, please do.”

Bay Ridge Cares packs Thanksgiving meals for homebound and food-insecure neighborsCourtesy of Bay Ridge Cares

Bay Ridge Cares, a nonprofit in the neighborhood of the same name, gave away 552 Thanksgiving meals to food-insecure neighbors in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst, according to the group’s president Karen Tadross. At Fort Hamilton, the Salaam Club of New York gave away hundreds of turkeys to troops on the base as a measure of gratitude. And vegetarian Bay Ridge Councilmember Justin Brannan, a candidate for Council speaker, distributed vegan Thanksgiving meals to residents who do not eat meat.

“It’s become kind of a cool tradition,” the pol said in a video posted to his Facebook page. “We always [find] that mainly carnivores come out just to try it out and see that another world is possible, and see that there’s so many healthy nutritious and carni-free alternatives out there if you choose not to eat meat that’s good for your soul, and it’s good for the planet.”

The turkey giveaway at Fort Hamilton.Photo by Arthur De Gaeta
Councilmember Justin Brannan dishes out vegan Thanksgiving alternatives on Nov. 24.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

The giving of thanks did not stop there. Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen with locations in Borough Park and Flatbush, served meals on Turkey Day to residents of a building on Lenox Road in Flatbush, where a recent fire has left many residents displaced and all without cooking gas. The group was joined by Councilmember-elect Rita Joseph.

“Very glad that the community was able to rally around our neighbors at 222 Lenox Road, who recently suffered a major fire,” Joseph wrote on Twitter. “Many thanks to Masbia for spearheading the efforts to provide Thanksgiving meals!”

The Kings Theatre on Flatbush Avenue held its annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon on Thursday, with hundreds of Brooklynites filing in to get a free Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving luncheon at the Kings Theatre.Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

And Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden joined Councilmember-elect Lincoln Restler and the North Brooklyn Angels in Greenpoint to distribute over 400 meals on Turkey Day.

“I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving,” the Beard said at the giveaway. “I hope you guys enjoy your day, get some good food, and being with your family.”