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49th Precinct Food Drive now collecting

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It is that time of the year again!

The Ninth Annual 49th Precinct Food Drive for the holidays is now collecting non-perishable items until Christmas Eve.

Donors can drop off cans of lima beans, ramen noodles, and other food that will not spoil either at the precinct at 2121 Eastchester Road or at Community Board 11 at 1741 Colden Avenue near Morris Park Avenue.

“If people want to drop off canned goods and nonperishable items, they can come to the precinct and drop them off,” said Community Affairs Office Victor DiPierro. “We will not be doing pickups because I just don’t have the resources to do that.”

Students at P.S. 121, P.S. 83, and P.S. 108 will also be joining in the drive, bringing their donations to school.

Youth groups, such as the 49th Precinct Explorers are participating, as are Cub Scout Troop 162, who will be collecting outside of Big Deal Food Market at 1018 Morris Park Avenue on Sunday, Dec. 16.

The cub scouts will also be selling wreaths in support of the cause.

“It is a wonderful way to end the year,” said chief organizer and 49th Precinct Community Council president Joe Thompson. “The kids love it - they love to help feed hungry people. And I think that is the most exiting part of this whole thing.”

The drive was first started almost a decade ago to deal with a critical food shortage during Christmas time, as many of the drives after Thanksgiving start to focus on collecting toys.

Thompson pointed out that the same community people who are hungry on Thanksgiving, get hungry during Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s.

“Years ago, we started it when we realized that no one was giving food around the holidays,” said Thompson. “It is great to have toys under the tree when you wake up in the morning, but when you haven’t had supper the evening before, it is not as great.”

The collected food will mainly go to the Bronx Jewish Community Council’s food pantry on Holland Avenue - by far the area’s largest pantry - with as much food as it can handle to St. Lucy’s Church pantry, said Thompson.

Turkeys are also collected during the drive by businesses and organizations and they donated to senior centers - including Parkside, Beth Abraham/Ce­nterLight, Pelham Parkway - and are raffled off to seniors, said Thompson.

In past years, business and houses of worship donating multiple turkeys have included Big Deal Food Market, Van Nest Assembly of God, Bronx Muslim Center, Kings Harbor Multicare Center, Maestro’s Caterers, and F & J Pine Restaurant.

All of the donations stay local, said Thompson, adding that there is a growing awareness of the problems of hunger in the community around the holidays.

“Our theme has always been the same,” he said. “We get from the community and we give back to the community.”

A newly formed community group called the Bronx Park East Association is also taking part in this year’s food drive, said Thompson.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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