Turkey trot: Ridge do-gooders hand out meals on Thanksgiving

Turkey trot: Ridge do-gooders hand out meals on Thanksgiving
Gift of the gobble: Bay Ridge Cares members Justin Brannan, Andrew Gounardes, and Councilman Vincent Gentile share a laugh with Joan Coppola after bringing her a hot Thanksgiving dinner for the holiday.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They spent Thanksgiving with other people’s families.

A couple dozen home-bound Ridgites got a surprise on Turkey Day when locals showed up at their doors with Thanksgiving meals in hand.

A trio from volunteer group Bay Ridge Cares delivered meals to those who were spending the holiday alone and were unable to cook because of illness or disability. The gesture really brightened up the day, one recipient said.

“It was nice to meet the Councilman and the other gentlemen who came,” said 91-year-old Shore Road resident Joan Coppola. “I live alone, so it was nice to see them. It may my day special.”

And the bounty-bringers didn’t just drop the food and run — volunteers took time to spread cheer along with cranberry sauce, a group co-founder said.

“We spent some time with people and let them know that we’re there,” said Justin Brannan of Bay Ridge Cares. “We made a lot of good connections with people, so hopefully they won’t feel so alone knowing that we’re out there.”Brannan, Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), and member Andrew Gounardes made deliveries around Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and even a couple Downtown, Brannan said.

And a local chef and Bay Ridge Cares member cooked up the two-dozen or so meals with a handful of volunteers. It was the least he could do, he said.

“I’m not that active because I run the restaurant, but whenever there’s food involved, I tell them to call me,” said Thomas Perone, who owns Bay Ridge barbecue joint Pig Guy NYC.

About 20 volunteers in all pitched in — more than Brannan expected, he said.

“Usually you struggle to find volunteers, but a lot of people were looking to help,” Brannan said. “The holidays come and people are feeling especially charitable, you want to have something for them to do.”The group handed out flyers at senior centers and asked people to suggest recipients via Facebook and e-mail. Finding people with few family connections in the area or who are hampered by physical ailments can be difficult, because many do not often make it out of their apartments or are less active on the Internet and social media, but Brannan hopes that the program will expand as word gets out, he said.

“The challenge is locating people who need the meals,” said Brannan. “I’m sure we only scratched the surface of people who are in need. Hopefully if word gets out and we do this every year, it will get bigger and bigger.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.

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