Compassion was writ large in Bethpage Tuesday as individuals, families and firms donated turkeys with all the trimmings and then some at one of Island Harvest’s biggest Thanksgiving events.
“I picked out the hot cocoa,” said Ella Rizzuoto, 6, listing items her Girl Scout Troop donated.
“The kids like to pick up stuff that kids like,” said her mother, Lorraine Rizzuoto, 42, of Old Bethpage. The troop’s choices included gingerbread and red beans, along with perhaps more conventional items.
Donors were motivated by generosity, the season, and a belief that goodness begets goodness.
“If I can help out, I don’t see why not,” said Carol Bergmann, 74, of South Farmingdale.
“This just gives me a reminder that it’s time to do something,” said Marie Dodd, 61, of Amityville.
“We’re all fortunate to have good jobs, and to pay it forward,” said Rick Norris, a service manager with Gabrielli Truck Sales. It is located across from Bethpage Federal Credit Union, which was holding its sixth annual collection.
Joe Kaczetow, 67, of Farmingdale, donated 80 turkeys — all his supermarket had — to honor his wife, Christine A., because she helped so many. In April, he became a widower after 44 years.
His wife once asked him to stop the car after a woman crossing the street dropped her grocery bag. “She tells me to pull off to the side, she runs out of the car, and she helps the lady.”
Despite Tuesday’s winter temperatures, volunteers were fairly busy. “I don’t think anybody [cares] that it’s too cold,” said Jim Broderick, 61, of Huntington, who started volunteering after learning how widespread yet “invisible” hunger was.
“It could be your neighbor, not advertising that the husband
and wife lost their jobs four or five years ago, and the kids are eating spaghetti four to five nights a week.”
Randi Shubin Dresner, the food bank’s CEO, said its network helps 1 of every 10 Long Islanders.
“It’s a very humbling experience to have to ask for food,” she said, shortly before a woman inquired if turkeys were being handed out. “Each year, we get requests for up to 40,000 turkeys; in our best year, we had 12,000 to 15,000,” Dresner said.
By 4 p.m., about 1,200 birds and 11,000 pounds of food had arrived, said Robert Suarez, assistant vice president at Bethpage. Donations are accepted for the rest of November and December.Linda Armyn, a credit union senior vice president, said its participation sprang from employees’ desire to do more than write checks.
“We want to roll up our sleeves,” she said. “We’re just going to keep going until people stop bringing us turkeys.”
This year, a time crunch forced Barry Landsman, 45, of Bellmore, to arrive with a check from his New York law firm, Pryor Cashman LLP, instead of turkeys, as he has previously. “It’s always shocking to know there are families without food on Long Island; as a parent of a 2-year-old and an 8-year old, it really hits home.”