BAY STORE – The Esquadron De Guerra Church in Bay Shore opened up to help the homeless in the community for Thanksgiving.
Through the morning, volunteers from the church go around the community to local shelters and find people on the streets, to offer a ride to anyone who would like to join them for the Thanksgiving celebration.
The church offers a Thanksgiving meal, free clothes, coats, and even free haircuts.
“It just rejuvenates them you know, someone can be having a rough day or a rough circumstance and a haircut changes their perspective, their outlook on things,” Volunteer Barber John Jimenez said.
Pat from Brentwood would have spent the bitterly cold Thanksgiving outside on the streets had it not been for the church opening its doors to him and the other needy members of the community.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing that everybody pitches in and helps out the needy,” Pat said.
“I would love to be with my family, but they are in Florida, and it’s cold out there so I was invited in here,” Brentwood Miquel Domeneck said.
Together as a community they prayed, laughed, and enjoyed a warm atmosphere over a delicious Thanksgiving meal, that was donated and served by parishioners and volunteers.
“I decided to come here since I have no family and I am by myself,” Brentwood Joe Lozado said.
“I just like to have family and friend over because I don’t like to be lonely a lot,” Brentwood resident Olvin Banegas said.
The Esquadron De Guerra Church said although this is the first time this outreach has been done, this tradition will continue for many years to come.
“Just looking at their smiles, and they have a warm place to come that’s what makes this so beautiful,” Church Leader Mirta Matos said.
“We want to welcome everyone so they know they are welcome and loved, this is what the community is about,” Volunteer Elvia Damaris said.
HAUPPAUGE – For the first time, Long Island Cares has opened up its warehouse to have people volunteer on Thanksgiving Day. The donations will be ready for delivery starting Monday, going to those in need.
“We decided this year that you know what, it’s time to do it. So we opened up at 8 o’clock this morning anticipating that we may have 20 volunteers,” CEO of Long Island Cares Paule Pachter said.
“They’re practically cleaning up the warehouse for us and it’s families, it’s little children who are here,” Pachter said. “It’s couples, it’s a lot of young people who have come out to join us, so it’s quite gratifying.”
Volunteers said they felt great about helping out and would do it again.
“It makes me feel good because I know the poor people are gonna get more food that they haven’t — and it makes me feel like I’m doing something good for the country,” Volunteer Liyah Wimberly said.
“I thought it was important to show my son that there are a lot of people who are less fortunate than us. People that need food, people that are hungry on long island and that we’re very blessed and on a day like Thanksgiving we should do what we can to give back,” Volunteer Matt Cohen said.
Organizers said at the beginning of the day the goal was to fill at least eight pallets worth of donations, they ended up filling around 35.
Our Lady of Grace in West Babylon and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst both received donations from local food drives, restocking everything from turkeys to cereals.
Some of the food donated this year came thanks to the S.U.F. Thanksgiving Food Drive, which is organized by Sci-Unison Fitness. Athletes take part in a Reps4Food challenge where they do a weight exercise challenge, like squads and people donate to support the cause. This year, they raised nearly $33,000.
The food drive began in 2013 and in total, they have given out over $80,000 worth of food to those who are hungry on Long Island.