Volunteers helped the Rotary Club provide 1,200 holiday meals
By Jonathan Wu
The Rotary Club of Great Neck held its 29th Thanksgiving turkey drive to package meals to donate to people who cannot afford a Thanksgiving dinner.
On the cold morning of Nov. 18, the ingredients were assembled at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Volunteers ranged from children to adults and even included local legislators, government officials and TV reporters. Many who came to help are members of the Great Neck Chinese Association and the local Chinese communities. They worked together to bring food to the tables of those less fortunate.
“This event will help about 1,200 families,” said Xin Feng, a volunteer who helped organize this event.
“It’s about bringing the community together, helping each other out and lending a helping hand,” said Jeff Shi, a trustee on the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education and a volunteer.
Preparation for the holiday food drive started around a month in advance.
“First, we sent [people] out to get the pricing. Then, it’s [a question of] should we get it from this place or that place,” explained Roger Chizever, chairman of the Rotary Club Thanksgiving turkey drive committee, who organized the event. “The mission of the Rotary Club is ‘service above self.’”
The supplies for the food drive are expensive. The turkeys alone cost more than $20,000, with the total food expenses costing more than $30,000, according to Chizever.
Approximately 1,200 families will each receive a reusable bag that contains five pounds of potatoes, three cans of vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, fresh carrots and dessert, plus a turkey.
The contents will allow people to have a meal at home with family. Even with all the volunteers’ hard work, it’s not easy to organize an event of this magnitude. The turkeys had not yet been delivered when the volunteers began packing the bags.
Nonetheless, the event went well. There were multiple stations, each with a different type of food, staffed with two volunteers. Other volunteers took a bag and received a food item from each station they passed.
It took multiple trucks, pickups and SUVs to haul away all of the bags. With the hard work of the volunteers, the job was finished in two hours. After all the bags were packed, group pictures were taken. People cheered, “Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you, Rotary!”
At the end of the day, much was accomplished with many, many bags sent to those in need all over Long Island.
“I just love helping people,” said Chizever, as he explained why this event is important to him. “So, now, these families who really can’t afford things can have a Thanksgiving dinner at home with their families.”
Read more about the event here.
Jonathan Wu is a fifth grader at Lakeville Elementary School. This is his first article, and his second time volunteering at the turkey drive.