49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive celebrates another successful year feeding the needy

(l-r) Students Moussa Diakite, Ardi Kastrati and Zachary Llanot; Branadon Muccino, P.S. 83 principal; teacher Laura Weihe; police officers Ann Echevarria and Thelma Tineo; Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president; 49th Precinct Community Affiars police officer David Lepore, teacher Connie Calbrase and student Aylani Perez.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Not even a stomach flu that forced some students to stay home could stop the collection of food for the needy at several schools in Morris Park and Pelham Parkway this holiday season.

Students at six schools and two youth programs in Morris Park and Pelham Parkway school collected an estimated 14,000 pounds of food for the annual 49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive during the three weeks after Thanksgiving, said Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president and drive coordinator.

That food was collected by the precinct from the schools on Wednesday, December 21 for two local pantries.

The precinct personnel chipped in an additional estimated 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food, said Thompson.

An NYPD van delivered the collected items to the Bronx Jewish Community Council pantry at 2141 Holland Avenue and to a pantry at St. Lucy’s Church in Allerton, said Thompson.

Schools participating in the collection included P.S. 83, P.S. 105, P.S. 108, Van Nest Academy and P.S. 481.

Cub Scout Pack 162 and the 49th Precinct Explorers also collected food and students from P.S. 89 helped unload delivered food at BJCC.

The drive coordinator said that as has been the case in previous years, students at P.S. 83 collected the largest portion of the donations, despite an outbreak of norovirus at the shool which led to a large number of student absences in recent weeks.

Thompson said that in light of all the school community has gone through, the amount of food collected took on even more meaning and was in the holiday spirit of giving.

“The school has been decimated by this virus and for the school to still come up with this kind of food collection shows dedication on the part of the students and their parents,” said Thompson, adding the school’s students and parents fought through it and still did a good job.

P.S. 83 principal Brandon Muccino said that collection boxes were placed in every classroom, and that the class in the main school and its annex that collected the most food was treated to a pizza party.

They turn the collection into a contest each year, he said

The student’s effort in this year’s collection proved that despite obstacles, they were able to accomplish the goals set, said the principal.

“I think that all the students still realize, even through their illnesses, how fortunate we are as a community,” said Muccino. “The fact that we still brought in just as much food as in any other year we have been doing this is a testament to overcoming obstacles and focusing on what we should be doing for everybody else.”

A parent who volunteered with 28 eighth graders from P.S. 89 to deliver the food to BJCC, Patricia Flores, said that she hoped the effort taught her daughter, Ashley Medina, and all of the students why it is important to help those less fortunate.

From the perspective of the precinct’s personnel, David Lepore, 49th Precinct Community Affairs police officer, said that he believes the drive bolsters an already strong relationship between police and community in the precinct.

“It shows…the community that we are here to help and give back in any way we can,” said Lepore, adding that by having youth and schools involved, the public gets to see ‘a different face’ of the police.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Aversen Sous, and his fellow students, helped load the food into the van at P.S. 83.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

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