Once again at the holidays communities in the 49th Precinct stepped up to help neighbors in need.
The precinct and its community council wound down its annual food drive on Friday, Dec. 21 with a large pickup at P.S. 83 in Morris Park.
Schools and community groups participating also included P.S./M.S. 498, P.S. 121, P.S. 108, Cub Scout Troop 162, the 49th Precinct Explorers, said community council president Joe Thompson.
About 17,000 pounds of food were collected this year, up from about 2,000 pounds from last year, he said.
The spirit of giving that was brought about by Superstorm Sandy in the past weeks seemed to contribute to the drive, he said, as people saw other people in need and wanted to help.
“People were in the habit of giving because of everything that happened,” said Thompson.
The canned and non-perishable food collected will benefit the Bronx Jewish Community Council, a local pantry in Community Board 11, as well as a food pantry at St. Lucy’s Church, he said.
Local businesses also donated turkeys to be raffled off at senior centers throughout the community.
Precinct Captain Andy Johnson was on hand Dec. 21 to thank the pupils in PS 83’s Community Service Club.
“The Four-Nine precinct feels that we are part of the community, so we do all we can,” said Johnson. “Joe [Thompson] is one of the main reasons. He is always there to help others, even before he helps himself.”
PS 83 Assistant Principal Brandon Muccino said the school’s Community Service Club was instrumental in the drive by visiting each homeroom to collect food from boxes. The club also helped run a relief effort for victims of Superstorm Sandy this school year, and is participating in Penny Harvest, he said.
Teaching Assistant and club moderator Connie Calabrese said that the winning homerooms were a fourth grade class that collected 175 food items, a fifth grade class that collected 165 items, and sixth grade class that collected 160 items.
They will be given pizza parties, she said. Some students also received an incentive that allowed them to get out of doing homework for one night if they brought in a certain amount of items.
“The children like to help others – it makes them feel good,” she said, adding that the children learned about giving and the value of teamwork.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393