Islip Food for Hope and Town of Islip distributed over 900 turkeys and around 200 boxes of various fixings on Nov. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Employees from the town Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department dollied boxes to the curb as collectors formed a line of cars in the Casamento Park parking lot in West Islip.
“We used to spend all day giving everything out. Now, we get it done between 9 a.m. and noon,” said Carol Charchalis, deputy commissioner of the department, adding that the town has been doing this for 30 years.
The various fixings distributed, coined “Boxes of Love,” include a slew of non-perishable food items, including stuffing, gravy, corn, mashed potatoes, cookies, macaroni and cheese, rice, beans and yams. Liz Mayott, president of Islip Food for Hope, said the majority of the trimmings a Thanksgiving meal calls for are enclosed and that the nonprofit has been directly involved with this particular initiative for nine years.
“We fundraise to give out as many Boxes of Love and turkeys as we can,” said Mayott, referring to the nonprofit’s sole fundraising event, Islip Thanksgiving Supervisor Breakfast.
The breakfast, which occurs in October at Timber Point Country Club in Great River, is an hour-long fundraiser. Mayott referenced it as a significant monetary contribution toward the cause. The money for the turkeys and groceries was acquired from various donors, too, including significant assistance from Island Outreach Foundation.
“Each year, our town employees and Islip Food for Hope go above and beyond with their generosity. This year, close to 900 Boxes of Love, providing all the trimmings for a holiday meal, and more than 800 turkeys were distributed to organizations that service Town of Islip families in need,” said Islip supervisor Angie Carpenter. “It is truly heartwarming to see this level of giving,” she added.
The event distributes food at the park to the Islip Rotary Club, churches, school districts and agencies within the town, like Mercy House and Association for Mental Health.
“For school districts, we go through the guidance offices,” Charchalis said. “They know their students, and they know which families are in need. So we don’t give to the families; we give to the agencies. This way we are very objective.”
Schools are sent notice of the initiative and have discretion whether or not to call the department for their students’ needs for the holidays.
Charchalis said the fundraising monies are routed through the Town of Islip, and then a board resolution on the matter is conducted in order to accept the funding and purchase the turkeys and groceries.
Town employee John Barcia, while loading turkeys and Boxes of Love into cars in the parking lot, expressed a sense of purpose when asked about his motivation to participate in the initiative.
“We do this for the enjoyment of how it makes people feel,” said Barcia, adding that he wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving.