This Thanksgiving, two Long Islanders will in their separate ways bring together teams to help feed people in need during a season when the coronavirus pandemic has fueled more requests for help and a determined passion to fulfill them.
Pastor Roy Kirton, 69, of the defunct Circle of Love Ministry in Copiague, said that due to the pandemic he expects to deliver 20% more meals beyond the 2,000 that usually get delivered across Long Island and Brooklyn.
"Many people won’t be able to do what they’ve done in the past because of unemployment," the retired Kirton said.
This is the 25th year of the food drive, said Kirton, a Bay Shore resident. On the menu will be turkey, string beans, macaroni and cheese, rolls, cranberry sauce and dessert, all of which are donated by various restaurants and chefs on Long Island.
Steve Mourelatos, who owns South Bay Diner in Lindenhurst with his brother, Constantine, will have a chef and a few helpers prepare the meals the night before so volunteers can package and deliver them the next day.
"He was a little hesitant to call me because of COVID," Mourelatos said of Kirton. "I couldn’t turn my back on him. I told him as long as I was in business, I would help him."
Volunteers will help package the meals, but Kirton said he also needs volunteers for one-hour shifts, mostly to make the deliveries. They will be required to complete a questionnaire about their health, have their temperature taken and wear their own personal protective equipment.
Volunteers will begin working at 8 a.m. on Thursday at the American Legion Post 1120 on Herbert Avenue in Lindenhurst. By 1 p.m. the meals get delivered to homeless shelters and the homes of others in need. Interested volunteers can contact Kirton at 631-379-1327 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miles away at the far end of Nassau County, Chris Strachan will partner with friends to cook a meal for 50 people Wednesday night at the Lutheran Church of Elmont on Atherton Avenue.
"I’m going to make a promise to them when we get there that this won’t be the last time that I meet with them," said Strachan, 33, a graduate of Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park.
Strachan, founder of the nonprofit Kick’n It for a Cause, moved back to New York in July from Martinez, California, after building his nonprofit’s digital media platform and helping Stephen Curry — a friend and point guard for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors — handle day-to-day sports business duties. The organization was founded in 2017 and uses sneaker donations to break down social barriers and bring people together.
Yvonne T. Young, community meal coordinator for the Lutheran Church of Elmont, said Strachan and her son went to school together and attended the church.
"I was amazed" by his phone call, Young said. "There was no way I was going to say no. I spoke with the pastor and he approved."