Queens community bands together to provide holiday meals for struggling neighbors

Queens

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens – Hundreds of families in Queens will now have a Christmas meal to gather around thanks to the members of community organizations who came together in Long Island City on Monday.

A truck full of turkeys backed its way into the parking lot of the Variety Boys and Girls Club. The meal drive was spearheaded by Jonathan Forgash, the co-founder of Queens Together.   

“Sysco foods came to us with an offer and said, ‘If you can get people here, we’ll give you a great discount,’ so we raised money and we’re going to help distribute 750 turkeys to families across Queens,” Forgash said.

Volunteers, like Megan Green, packed the boxes of turkeys into trucks and cars to get the deliveries on the road.

“It just really feels great to give back to the community to help build community,” Green said.

Queens Together is an association of restaurants supporting each other in business and helping communities in crisis. Now, organizations in the neighborhood will be able to provide the families they serve with holiday meals. 

Among them is Zone 126, a “cradle-to-college-to-career” organization. Executive Director Dr. Anju J. Rupchandani said this will help families they serve.

“Lots of our families have lost their jobs,” Rupchandani said. “A lot of our families are just making it, barely at this point, so it’s important for us to support them in giving them the things that they need in order to have a successful and happy holiday this season.”

These groups have been coming together and helping those in need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney was also in attendance on Monday and has been a supporter of Queens Together.

“It’s the same thing we did during COVID, but we have COVID again, so it’s more important than ever that we are able to respond to the community,” Maloney said.

The organizations and volunteers are working to spread holiday cheer after a torturous nearly two years for many residents in the area.

Costa Constantinides, CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, said they’re glad to be a resource for the community during such a difficult time.

“So many during this holiday season have experienced so much trauma,” Constantinides said. “We’re here to provide them a safe space and a place that they can grow.”

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