‘Keep the good going’: Volunteers across Brooklyn team up to pass out free Thanksgiving turkeys

Reaching Out Community Services handed out turkeys and all the trimmings at its annual Operation Gobbler Giving on Monday, Nov. 21.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

It’s the season of giving — and Brooklynites sure are getting into the holiday spirit.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, a number of turkey giveaways have already taken place, and there are even more on the way. And, even though the events are being hosted by different organizations and elected officials, the sentiment seems to be the same at each: lend a helping hand this season.

On Friday, the Arab American Association of New York partnered with Bay Ridge Councilmember Justin Brannan and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus to pass out free turkeys to Ridgeites.

Residents were able to stop by the giveaway site and snatch up a turkey, no questions asked. 

“Today we are distributing 480 turkeys, thank you to Islamic Relief, who funded this and allowed us to uplift and support our community,” said Laith Alnatour, operations administrator and events coordinator at AAANY.

Local leaders passed out free turkey ahead of the food-filled holiday.
Local leaders passed out free turkeys at the Arab American Association of New York in Bay Ridge ahead of the food-filled holiday.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

According to Brannan, the giveaway was all about fostering togetherness and ensuring everyone has access to proper food supplies during this holiday season.

“Many of our neighbors struggle with food insecurity every day of the year, but it can be especially tough during the holidays. Our goal is to ensure everyone can sit down with their family and be thankful this year,” Brannan said in a statement. “We are blessed to have so many great community partners that help us make that a reality. This is what Bay Ridge is all about – looking out for each other.”

Not far from Bay Ridge, actor Tracy Morgan surprised residents of Gravesend’s Marlboro Houses at a massive turkey distribution hosted the Marlboro Resident Association in partnership with the Food Bank for New York City and Stop & Shop. That giveaway was one of many for Coney Councilmember Ari Kagan, who also hosted his own drive outside of his Stillwell Avenue office, and participated in a number of others across the borough.

In Bensonhurst, an annual tradition proved lasting outside of Reaching Out Community Services on Nov. 21. The Brooklyn food pantry — known for its Thanksgiving giveaways as well as its yearly backpack drives for local students — dishes out an impressive number turkeys (and all the trimmings) each year. The event, dubbed Operation Gobbler Giving, serves as a milestone for the local non-profit, headed by Tom Neve.

Turkeys, apples and yams — oh, my! All the trimmings were dished out at Reaching Out Community Service’s annual Operation Gobbler Giving celebration.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

“We’re going through all these years to make it happen for families in need,” Neve said at the event, adding that it’s “not just what we do as an organization,” and that Reaching Out owes much of its success to its sponsors – among their biggest, the Rotary Club of Verrazano.

“We serve hundreds of hundreds of families — and these are families that have food insecurity issues, that’s why we do what we do,” Neve said. “We want everyone to gather together with their families. We have tons and tons of volunteers — everyone is working to make this happen. I think it’s great that people come together to keep the good going and help our neighbors in need.”

Across the borough, in Flatbush, Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan joined the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens to distribute turkeys to more than 1,000 people and families in need at Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church.