More than 1,000 people get Christmas meal at Manhattan community center

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UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — The Christmas meal at Goddard Riverside, which serves more than 1,000 people, is a 30-year tradition.

Some who came on Wednesday were homeless. Others were families and older adults looking for a warm meal and an even warmer sense of community.

“I have turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potato and cranberry,” Ed Shaw, a member of Goddard Riverwsie, told PIX11 News. “I’m not supposed to have the cake, so don’t tell anyone.”

Shaw, 78, has been a member of Goddard Riverside for 19 years, he said. With his parents and sister deceased, this Christmas meal feels like home.

“Yes, this is my family now, my extended family and I’m very appreciative of all the work they’ve done,” Shaw told PIX11 News.

For Evans Annan, this is his first Christmas meal in New York City since arriving from Ghana five months ago:

“It’s a great thing to celebrate Jesus Christ,” Annan told PIX11 News.

Emma Venarde, 17, was a first-time volunteer.

“It was my mom’s idea to come on Christmas and give back in some way,”Venarde said.

For all the volunteers, it’s all about creating a sense of community on 88th Street and Columbus Avenue.

“I’ve been here seven years because I love to give back,” Maine Richardson, a volunteer, told PIX11 News. “And the gift of giving makes you feel good inside.”

When PIX11 asked Maine Richardson’s grandson, Carter Davis, if he was being taught to give back by his grandmother, the 7-year-old proudly answered “Yes.”

And for those who couldn’t leave their homes, Goddard Riverside came to them.

“We deliver about 442 meals for those who couldn’t get out,” Roderick Jones, the executive director of Goddard Riverside, told PIX11 News. “And people take a meal to go home as well.”

This Christmas meal is totally supported by community and is free and open to all.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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