More than 300 volunteers converged on Goddard Riverside to cook, serve and deliver more than 1500 meals to those in need of nourishment on Thanksgiving Day.
Guests who arrived early were seated in the front room with a spread of coffee and cakes. Then they were escorted to their tables, where volunteers brought them plates loaded up with turkey, cranberry sauce, veggies, stuffing and gravy. Holiday decorations and live music – a guitarist playing and singing in the dining room, and an accordionist in the front room — added to the festive atmosphere.
Goddard Riverside Executive Director Stephan took to the microphone to thank the volunteers and guests for coming, saying “We welcome you; I’m glad you’re in our home.” But while everyone enjoys the Holiday Meals, he added, he also wished they weren’t necessary—because “nobody should be going hungry” in New York City today.
It was Jagger Thompson’s first Thanksgiving at Goddard Riverside. He came with his wife and small child. “It was delicious. It was incredible,” he said.
Thompson has been meeting with our homeless street outreach team in hopes of finding permanent housing. With help from them, he hopes to “stick with college, graduate, and get a place with my family.”
The kitchen and dining room were buzzing by 8 a.m. as volunteers prepared for the noon meal. Some arranged flowers for the dining tables, while others chopped their way through 50-pound sacks of carrots, onions and celery. Children wrapped cookies for the home-delivered meals, while adults sliced pies and stacked the wedges in layers between sheets of aluminum foil.
The work continued throughout the meal and beyond, as volunteers helped clean up the kitchen and rearrange the dining room. No food went to waste; all the leftovers were given to the street outreach program.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are truly a community effort, made possible by donations of both labor and food. We are deeply grateful to all the individuals and businesses who helped make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a success.