The 49th Precinct, working with the community, collected thousands of pounds of food for needy families in time for the Christmas holiday again this year.
The precinct’s community council and its officers teamed with local schools, organizations and individuals to collect almost ninr tons of food for two neighborhood food pantries in the precinct service area.
The annual food drive has gone on for about a decade.
More food was collected this year than last year, said Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council as food was picked up at P.S. 83 in Morris Park, which is typically the largest donor in the annual drive.
“The food that we collect in the 49th Precinct area, we give to the people in the (area) – so it is like we are giving to a neighbor, said Thompson, adding “My greatest feeling is when I see the dedication on the kids’ faces, and the joy they get out of giving.”
Students and their families at P.S. 83, P.S. 105, P.S. 108, P.S. 481 Madeline Provenzano School and P.S./M.S. 498 Van Nest Academy donated food earmarked for the Bronx Jewish Community Council food pantry in the Pelham Parkway community, said Thompson.
In addition, Cub Scout Troop 162 collected 1,600 pounds of food in front of Big Deal Supermarket at 1018 Morris Park Avenue that will go to feed the hungry at the St. Lucy Church Food Pantry in Allerton, he said.
The food is very much needed, especially during the Christmas holiday, said David Edlestein, BJCC food pantry director.
It ensures that everyone who comes to the pantry goes home with enough food, he said.
“It is such a huge donation coming right before the Christmas holiday when so many people have family gatherings and when people living alone don’t have the ability to celebrate as they would like to,” said Edlestein. “Receiving this huge amount of wonderful food allows us to be generous to the people who come to our pantry.”
Forty-ninth Precinct officers transported the food from the collection points to the recipient organizations.
“I think it is incredible, the amount of support that we have received from all of the schools,” 49th Precinct Community Affairs officer David Lepore said. “To see the amount of food we collected was quite impressive.”
The police were assisted in their efforts by student volunteers, like those in P.S. 83’s Community Service Club and the Student Council, under the guidance of school secretary Connie Calabrese and teacher Elena Canneto respectively.
The school turned the food drive into a competition, said Brandon Muccino, P.S. 83 principal.
Also helping transport the food from P.S. 83 to the pantry on the pickup day, Tuesday, December 22, was community leader Joseph McManus.
In addition to the schools, Kings Harbor Multicare Center at 2000 E. Gun Hill Road and Maestro Caterers at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue both donated turkeys for the holiday season, said Thompson.
The turkeys will go to senior programs at New York City Housing Authority developments at Eastchester Gardens, Parkside Houses, and Pelham Parkway Houses, as well as Centerlight, said Thompson.
An anonymous donor contributed $1,000 for the purchase of gift cards for the food that Thompson distributed, the precinct council president said.
In addition, the anonymous benefactor treated the officers at the 49th Precinct to a holiday meal, he added.