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Far Rock residents given special meal

State Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica) meets members of the Rockaway Youth Task Force at a community Thanksgiving dinner in Far Rockaway. Photo by Alex Robinson
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Organizations from all over Queens joined together to give Far Rockaway a Thanksgiving dinner for the second year in a row last Thursday.

State Sen. James Sanders (D-Far Rockaway) and MS 53 hosted the annual event, first held last year after Superstorm Sandy left many in the area without the means to cook their own dinner.

“On Thanksgiving Day [last year], many people were in the dark, including myself. I live out here and there was no heat, no hot water and no electricity,” Sanders said. “We decided that the holidays mean something and we’ll do the cooking for them.”

More than 350 people came through the school’s doors, at 10-45 Nameoke St., for Thanksgiving last year. Organizers said not as many people attended the dinner this year, but that could be a sign that more residents had gotten back on their feet.

Many of the Queens-based organizations that went to Far Rockaway to help with Sandy relief returned this year for the dinner. Among them were the Sikh Cultural Society of Richmond Hill, the Rockaway Youth Task Force and the NYC LGBT Task Force, to name a few.

Flushing-based Green Earth Urban Gardens Inc. brought five smoked turkeys which were donated by City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) for the event.

The organization’s president, Maureen Regan, said her family voted to come and help out with the dinner rather than spend Thanksgiving at home.

“People need to know that there are places you can go to get a hot meal,” she said. “If you’re alone in your home and don’t have any family, there’s always a local church, seniors center or nonprofit that open up during the holidays.”

The Sikh Cultural Society, which handed out food and tea to Sandy victims in the first days after the storm struck, offered vegetarian food at the dinner.

“This year we just wanted to continue the trend,” said Harpeet Singh Toor, the group’s chairman of public policy and external affairs. “We decided to stay involved in this community as this is a large part of our community and it helps people understand Sikh culture, religion and our faith in selfless service.”

Volunteers home-cooked all of the event’s food, including 15 turkeys. Organizers were hoping at least 250 people would come through the school for a meal. Any leftovers would be brought to shelters.

MS 53 Principal Shawn Rux said he was happy the event could return for a second year so that a tradition could start.

“It just feels good to give back to the community. I’ve always considered MS 53 the hub of Far Rockaway. What better way to give back than Thanksgiving,” he said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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