Veterans and community members in need of help this holiday season were able to come to a fabulous resource in Soundview where they were given free turkeys and related accessories.
Sponsored by Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Councilwoman Annabel Palma, New York City Central Labor Council, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, the giveaway included almost 400 turkeys to needy families, taking place at the New Era Veterans Center at 1150 Commonwealth Avenue on Friday, November 21.
Councilwoman Palma was on hand as a crowd of hundreds made a line down the block in a rush to get their hands on the free holiday food.
“The way folks are thinking today is that they want to hold onto every dollar they have, so this means saving some money,” Palma said. “If you can put a turkey on the table without paying for it, that money can be put towards other things a family needs.”
Palma said at the event that she was encouraged by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fiscal policy savings over the past few years, indicating that the rainy day the mayor was predicting has indeed arrived.
“I come and support this event every year,” Palma said. “People from the community come and stand outside on line for four hours or more. It is even bigger this year, but given the economic times, it is even more needed. We see working class families that we wouldn’t normally see standing on line for free food. We have homeowners struggling to make choices between eating and heating their homes.”
Borough President Carrion’s office’s presence was felt, and his representative spoke of all of the wonderful initiatives that were helping veterans and needy families.
“One of the things we try to do in the Borough President’s Veterans resource center is cut down on the amount of time it takes for vets to get benefits, or to refer our nation’s heroes to the Veterans Administration or elsewhere for housing, mental health, or educational services.”
New Era director of veterans services Thomas Mullifield said that former military servicemen and servicewomen are especially hard hit by the economic downturn.
“I have been in this business for 34 years – we try to get vets who are sleeping on subway grates off the streets and into housing so they can be cleaned-up and put to work,” Mullifield said. “I have people who need help now, and we are forced to go into our own pockets to buy homeless vets things like shoes, food, and Metrocards.”