Following the devastation of superstorm Sandy, many Long Islanders and New Yorkers have been too busy digging out to even think about Thanksgiving. Congregations on Long Island understand this and are opening their doors, kitchens and pantries to lend a hand and offer support.
"This is not our first time doing this," says Michael Longott, office manager at Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport. "There's no shame in coming to a community dinner. We look at this as a warm environment where Long Islanders come together to help each other."
Bethany Congregational Church in East Rockaway expects that a larger than usual number of guests will attend their annual dinner.
"We'll keep serving until the food runs out," says Pastor Mark Lukens of Bethany. "God's love is free, and so are the turkey and trimmings."
Here are just some of the places offering dinners to those in need, or who are just in need of company on Thanksgiving:
Perfecting Faith Church
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-3 p.m.,
311 N. Main St., Freeport
In addition to dinner, Perfecting Faith's "shop" will be open, where visitors can pick out coats and other warm clothing free of cost. "The room is set up store-style," Longott says. "We want people to come down and pick out what they need to keep them warm."
Bethany Congregational Church, UCC
WHEN | WHERE 1-4 p.m., 100 Main St., East Rockaway
INFO 516-599-5768, bethanycongregationaleastrockaway.org
"It would be nice if they could tell us they're coming so we know how much food we'll need, but just come anyway, everybody is welcome," says Lukens. "You don't have to be destitute. Come just because you want to get together and have a great Thanksgiving."
The church's Federal Emergency Management Agency aid station also will be open and visitors can pick up clothing, food, cleaning supplies and baby formula, etc.
WHEN | WHERE Noon-3 p.m., 61 Shirley Lane, Medford
"This is about fellowship, and food," says Bishop Harrison Hale, of the student-run cafeteria affiliated with Cornerstone Church of God in Christ, which will host the meal. During the week, students and members of the community can eat a hot meal for free. "All are welcome. Come eat as much as you like."
Church of the Harvest
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 572 Raynor Ave., Riverhead
INFO 631-727-1977, churchoth.com
"We usually serve about 400 dinners," says pastor Mike Troiano, "but with the economy and Sandy, I'm getting more calls than ever before. Every year we seem to have more come. We've been doing it for 25 years."
Troiano says the church will provide transportation to the dinner or deliveries to those who are homebound.
Interfaith Nutrition Network
WHEN | WHERE 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Mary Brennan INN, 100 Madison Ave., Hempstead; Noon-1:30 p.m., North Shore INN, 7 Continental Place, Glen Cove; 1-2 p.m., The Invited INN, 716 Rte. 25A, Rocky Point; 5-6 p.m., Thee Gather INN, 792 Hawkins Ave., Lake Grove; prepared meals distributed noon-1 p.m., The Mercy INN, 17 S. 20th St., Wyandanch
INFO 516-486-8506, ext. 106, the-inn.org
"We do a lot of turkey distributions and giving of supplies to help people have their dinner at home, but we do get a large crowd at the locations," says Joe Barry, director of fundraising for INN. "We could get more than usual this year. That is the challenge of running a soup kitchen. We do prepare enough to serve all the people coming in."
Oceanside High School
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oceanside High School, 3160 Skillman Ave., Oceanside
"We've had it here many years, but because we have such a big operation for disaster relief, we didn't think we'd get our cafeteria cleaned out in time," says Father Nicholas Lombardi of St. Anthony's Church, which has cleaning supplies, food and other items available, but call 516-764-0048 to check daily hours. "People can just walk in. We don't ask them questions," Lombari says. As for Thanksgiving, Rob Transom, president of Oceanside Community Service, says that the free holiday dinner at the high school is being co-sponsored by his organization and the Oceanside Interfaith Council. "There's a lot more room at the high school," says Lombardi. "We usually feed a few hundred. No one really knows how many we will feed this year. There are so many in need. There are still a lot of people without power."
I Support Roosevelt Youth Center
WHEN | WHERE Noon-3 p.m., 55 Mansfield Ave., Roosevelt
In addition to dinner, visitors can visit the clothing panty at the youth center to pick up warm clothing. The dinner is being hosted by the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Roosevelt.