Hundreds of people lined up in Roosevelt and Shirley’s stable flow of cars to receive donated Thanksgiving meals were a sign of a holiday changed by the effects of COVID-19.
Turkeys, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables that were part of a bag of food distributed by Harvest for the World from Roosevelt’s pantry “normal life, normal thanksgiving” to those in financial distress. “It’s like a festival,” said Joanna Bell. Richards, executive director of the group.
“There wouldn’t be a turkey,” said Emma Antepara, 58, of Hempstead, without the donated food. “That would be chicken. Turkey is too expensive.”
Antepara lost her 24-hour babysitter job in March because the family she worked for was “not wanting to let me home for fear of getting infected” with the coronavirus. My 34-year-old son, who lives with her husband, is an airline counter agent who had been closed for months due to a plane crash and currently works only 16 hours a week.
Until this year, they had never visited a food pantry, Antepara said.
“I never thought about it because we were all working,” she said.
Bell-Richards said there were 75 to 100 people in the pantry daily before COVID-19. It reached 550 in March and now averages around 340. On Saturday, the group also handed out children’s coats.
Shirley’s event was part of Feed the Hope, a group of 12 churches in four states that distributed food on Saturday.
“When we talk about building communities and building hope, we want families to gather around the table around food,” said Kenny Engasser, deacon of Shirley Assemblies of God, who helped organize the event. ..
Most cars received three large boxes of fresh produce, milk, yogurt, juice and other items, as well as a $ 20 gift voucher to buy turkey.
Shirley’s Victor Carabro, 64, said he was the first to receive food donated on Saturday.
He advertises bands playing in restaurants and bars on Long Island, and he said he had “no job” in a pandemic.
“Most of this food has been off work since March and I’m really suffering, so I’ll give it to my tenants,” said Carabro. He said they were both musicians.
Mastic’s Tania Sevilla, 26, got into the car with two other women. All are housekeepers who work primarily in the Hamptons, and all do much less work than usual, mainly because many clients do not want them in the house because of the coronavirus. Seville’s husband is a landscape architect and his clients can’t afford to pay him, so he now does his own garden work.
“At least we can get together for Thanksgiving,” Sevilla said in Spanish, referring to the couple and their four children.
Church volunteers prayed to those who wanted it. Doug Stretch, 67, said people fearing the coronavirus had asked him to pray with them for their health. Others told him about financial difficulties.
“People asked me to pray for work for them,” he said. “Things are really hard.”