South Brooklyn community groups donate turkeys to feed hundreds of families

Janely Ramirez receiving her turkey donation from Shorefront Coalition co-founder Steve Saperstein, along with NYPD 60th Precinct Deputy Inspector Joseph Hayward and I.S. 303 Kiwanis Builders Club facilitator Mario Caggiano.
Photo by Jessica Parks

A trio of south Brooklyn community groups banded together to hand out a squawking 150 turkeys, treating families to birds that one do-gooder compared to a luxury car. 

“The director of the soup kitchen called it ‘the Rolls Royce’ of turkeys,” said Steve Saperstein of Shorefront Coalition. 

The volunteer group teamed up with NYPD’s 60th Precinct and the IS 303 Brooklyn-Kiwanis Builders Club to distribute Brooklyn finest fowl t0 hungry locals throughout the borough.

One mother was thrilled to learn she’d have the chance to cook a turkey for her disabled daughter, who’s due back from the hospital on Thanksgiving weekend.

“I was surprised because I emailed about a week ago,” said Janelly Ramirez. “The day I had to take my daughter to the emergency room, I got the email so I was very surprised and I am very grateful for it.” 

Ramirez’s turkey was delivered to her directly, but many Thanksgiving birds were left to soup kitchens and food pantries, where volunteers coordinated the donations to needy families.

A few dozen turkeys were donated to the food pantry at Gravesend Homes — a NYCHA public housing community — which will provide 26 families in the affordable housing complex with a hot turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, said the Gravesend Houses Tenant Association president. 

“Every day we service over 50 people,” said Deborah Carter. “We had 26 families that didn’t have a turkey, so between today and tomorrow those turkeys will be out of here.” 

Shorefront Coalition co-founder Lev Ekster secured the donation of 150 birds from NetCost Market — a Russian and European specialty food store — and police officers from the 60th Precinct joined other volunteers to drop off the birds via squad car over the course of three days. 

And as per tradition, the IS 303 Kiwanis Builder Club brought along three young student volunteers, which the school program’s facilitator said helps teach the children kindness and generosity around the holidays. 

The turkey donation crew comprised of 60th Precinct officers, Shorefront Coalition volunteers and members of the I.S. 303 Kiwanis Builders Club.Photo by Jessica Parks

“Every year I lead the students from I.S. 303 Kiwanis Builders Club in a coordinated turkey delivery with the NYPD 60th Precinct community partners,” said Mario Caggiano. “This is extremely important because it teaches children to be selfless and show care for others in the community.” 

Twenty Empire kosher turkeys were provided to Mabia Soup Kitchen which the executive director said would feed 250 people on Thanksgiving – and other turkeys were donated to community centers, single-parent families, victims of domestic violence families, local churches and mosques.

“There are so many forgotten families here in Southern Brooklyn,” said Saperstein. “The direct impact that we were able to make in time for the holiday is so special. We look forward to doing the turkey giveaway again next year.”