An annual community effort to feed the hungry during the holidays was a resounding success again this year.
The 49th Precinct’s Annual Holiday Food Drive, a community staple for 15 years, has again delivered approximately 17,000 pounds of food to two pantries servicing the public in the precinct’s service area.
The 49th Precinct Community Council has long sponsored the drive, which grew out of a need for food during the holidays, at a time when most other drives shift to collecting toys for youngsters, he said.
“I was asked early on at the precinct council for food for Christmas and the holidays. Most food drives are done at Thanksgiving, so that’s why we created this drive,” said Thompson. “The same people who are hungry at Thanksgiving are hungry at Christmas.”
The donations were collected from P.S. 83, P.S. 108, P.S. 105, Van Nest Academy, Cub Scout Pack #162, as well as cops and civilians at the 49th Precinct and Maestro’s Caterers, which donated turkeys to senior programs at four NYCHA developments, said Thompson.
The cub scouts stood outside Big Deal Supermarket in Morris Park for several hours on Saturday, December 15 and collected non-perishable food, said Thompson.
This year, food wholesaler Osem Group donated three large pallets of food product, which were trucked in from New Jersey, according to drive organizers.
Students at P.S. 83 collected the largest amount of food this year, with the Osem Group donation arranged through one of the school’s teacher’s spouses, said school principal Brandon Muccino.
The company has donated in the past, said Muccino.
Members of the P.S. 83 Student Council helped load the items that the school collected into vans that police officers David Lepore, Tyrone Mederos and Juan Sanchez drove to the Bronx Jewish Community Council’s food pantry on Thursday, December 20.
Additional food was also supplied to a smaller pantry at St. Lucy’s Church, said event participants.
Student council leaders president Dionne Dusaj, vice-president Nazifa Ali, secretary Scarlett Harriet and treasurer Anatoli Velikov went from classroom to classroom imploring their peers to donate to the school’s drive after Thanksgiving, said Dusaj.
Velikov and Dusaj both said that the drive made them feel good to witness how much goodness there was in the world, while Harriet said it showed how much people care.
“I am happy to see that people in our school want to help people in need and want them to be happy,” said Ali.
Muccino also said that he personally encouraged the students via his morning announcements to contribute to the cause.
“We want to teach our students to be global citizens,” said the principal. “I made an announcement every day, asking the students to remember those in need in our community.”
Besides collecting a large amount of food to fight hunger on a grassroots level in the precinct’s own communities, the annual effort supports the precinct council’s ultimate goal of bettering police and community relations, said Thompson.
“Police cannot accept donations of money for anything, not even to buy food for the needy, and their manpower is better used elsewhere in fighting crime,” said Thompson. “The council does the leg work on this food drive that the police cannot do; that’s what we are here for.”