Rotary Club trucks turkeys to blind kids

Members of the Verrazano Rotary Club donated a truckload of Thanksgiving turkeys to the New York Institute for Special Education’s school on Pelham Parkway. The Schermerhorn program caters to children who are legally blind. (l-r) Schermerhorn students Mayaline Lopez, Lashauna Cole, Syretta Guisto, Tonimarie Rhone, Raymond Forrest, Zenobia Morales and Ruben Rodriguez.

For the fourth time since 2004, a turkey train stopped at Pelham Parkway and the New York Institute for Special Education’s Schermerhorn program.

The Verrazano Rotary Club donated 75 Thanksgiving turkeys, trimmings included, to NYISE. On Friday, November 21, Schermerhorn students wrapped the birds in NYSIE’s gymnasium. Each student took a turkey package home.

“This was fun,” Lashauna Cole, a 17-year old Schermerhorn senior, said. “It’s always fun. I lot of us don’t like turkey, but we like wrapping and laughing.”

NYISE’s Schermerhorn Program caters to children who are legally blind. They benefit from custom-designed academic courses that emphasize independence. According to the program, many Schermerhorn students have mild secondary disabilities and need a “specialized education environment in order to be successful.”

“Our club does a lot for schools in general,” said Verrazano Rotary President Michael Iacobucci. “But for us, this school comes first. We like to reach out and make a better holiday for the kids and their families.”

The Verrazano Rotary Club will return to NYISE next month bearing toys. The organization gives away upwards of 300 turkeys each fall – 75 to Schermerhorn, 200 to the Coalition of Concerned Medial Professionals and the remainder to a number of other groups.

Campagna Foods in Brooklyn obtains the birds – not a simple task.

“They handle all the logistics,” Frank Pedulla, a Verrazano Rotary member, said. “We order months ahead of time.”

For NYISE’s students, the event is a chance to express thanks – for the turkeys, each other and another good year.

“Thanksgiving is a great time for us to come together,” Raven Valez, another 17-year old said. “We’re all seniors!”

Some of the turkeys will disappear into student stomachs. Others will end up in homes not affiliated with NYSIE – a 176-year old non-profit.

“With the economy going this way, we need to give back – to those less fortunate in our community,” said Tonimarie Rhone, also 17.

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