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Thanksgiving dinner turns into meals on wheels

Doug Shaw, 45, of Sayville, spent time cooking

Doug Shaw, 45, of Sayville, spent time cooking and warming Thanksgiving meals at the Sayville VFW Post 433 to deliver to victims of superstorm Sandy or those in need of a warm meal. (Nov. 22, 2012) (Credit: Brittany Wait)

Trays of sliced turkey, stuffing and warm vegetables sat untouched two hours into a Thanksgiving buffet offered to victims of superstorm Sandy or those in need of a warm meal.

One volunteer, Joanne Alcabes, stood outside the front door of the Sayville VFW Post 433, waiting for families to pull up in their cars, but found none.

“We did all we could this morning to prepare, but I don’t see anyone coming,” said Alcabes, secretary for the principal at Sayville High School. “At least we’re ready.”

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Her husband, Mike Alcabes, a member of the VFW post on Lakeland Avenue, reserved the banquet hall for Thanksgiving Day to serve turkey dinners with all the trimmings to at least 150 people, but not a single person walked through the door.

“We reached out to anyone we could,” said Alcabes, 67, of Sayville. “We found that most people wanted to stay in their homes or couldn’t make it out, so we’re delivering.”

Twenty volunteers delivered more than 120 meals to senior complexes, shelters, churches and neighborhoods.

Doug Shaw, an English teacher at Sayville High School, was the first to deliver a meal to a woman who couldn’t get out of her house, but said she could use the warm dinner.

“Since a lot of resources have been used to help victims of Sandy, we definitely want to make sure even those who just need a warm meal are taken care of,” said Shaw, 45, of Sayville.

Anne Campbell, who lives alone in a house on Sayville Boulevard, didn’t have any mode of transportation to get to the VFW post for the buffet so she welcomed the meal that was delivered to her.

“I was without power for six days and lost everything in my fridge,” Campbell said. “Then when the nor’easter hit, I lost even more food. I called around to see who could deliver and I’m so thankful for this meal and to have a heated home again.”

After his first delivery, Shaw was disappointed to come back to an empty hall, but glad that he could still help by driving to homes, providing warm meals to families on the holiday.

“The good thing is that even if people don’t show up, the food still has somewhere to go,” Shaw said. “It won’t go to waste.”

Betsy Quinlan, a social worker at Sayville High School, said the hot food that’s left will go to a church in Mastic Beach and the uncooked food will go to Sayville Project, a nonprofit community based service sponsored by the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University.

“Next year, we’re doing this differently,” said Quinlan, 60, of Patchogue. “It will be more like Thanksgiving on wheels.”

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