Volunteers give back to Long Beach

Darwin Yanes for LI Herald

December 02, 2019

Originally published in Long Island Herald on December 02, 2019.

The Martin Luther King Center on Tuesday donated turkeys and other holiday trimmings to hundreds of residents in need just hours before a large community Thanksgiving dinner at the center.

Organizers said that more than 50 volunteers worked throughout November to collect donations and package food that was given out to locals in need prior to the center’s annual event. The Long Beach Soup Kitchen, City Hall, St. Mary of the Isle Roman Catholic Church, the Department of Parks and Recreation and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office were among the center’s partners that helped them collect food for the event.

“I’m happy that we can do this to help lighten the load for so many for the Thanksgiving season,” MLK Center Chairman James Hodge said. “I’m truly excited and blessed that the MLK team do what we can to make this happen every year with all of our partners that help us out,”

Among the more than 20 volunteers that were in attendance at the food giveaway on Tuesday morning were Acting City Manager John Mirando and New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon — who said that it was her first time on Long Island — handing out turkeys before Thanksgiving.

“This is a great thing to be able to do and I thank all of our community partners who make it possible for us to help people have a wonderful Thanksgiving,” Reardon said.

Hodge added that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office delivered more than 200 frozen turkeys in addition to what the MLK collected, which helped the center service more than 300 families.

Marcia Nunez, a Long Beach resident and mother of six, was among the families that benefited from the food giveaway. She said that three of her children take part in the center’s afterschool programs.

“This is wonderful because many people in the neighborhood cannot afford it,” Nunez said. “Some people are disabled and others don’t have the money and this is a good thing for the community.”

Nunez added that her family would be attending the Thanksgiving dinner later that day, which according to organizers feeds more than 150 people. The dinner offers food items like deep-fried turkeys, ham and string beans among many other food items. The center also sends out people to provide food to seniors and other individuals who are unable to leave their homes. Hodge added that the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce provided all the desserts for the dinner.

“The center is a small organization that tries to do major things and we seek out the help and support of our community,” Hodge said.