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Volunteers decorate cupcakes with SE Queens elderly for MLK day

Volunteers help seniors decorate cupcakes in Locust Manor on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

A group of volunteers showed their sweet side to southeast Queens seniors earlier this week in honor of the enduring spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

About half a dozen helping hands stopped by the Locust Manor Senior Residence Monday, where they showed the elderly residents a good time and helped decorate cupcakes as part of the Food Bank for New York City’s weekend of service.

“We’ve been serving meals and doing projects like this,” said Tiffany de la Torre, senior manager of corporate relations with the food bank. “It’s a nice thing to do for the seniors and their families, children, grandchildren — everyone can come together.”

The Food Bank is the largest in the country, with a network of more than 1,000 member agencies — charities, soup kitchens, churches, etc. — that aim to feed the 2.6 million New Yorkers who struggle to afford food. The organization has a massive, 90,000-square-foot warehouse in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, where it collects, stores and distributes millions of pounds of food each year.

At Locust Manor, Sharon Sweeting-Lindsey has been stocking a pantry for the seniors with the goodies she buys from the food bank with a few grants she receives for her charity, Vets Inc. About 40 percent of the residents at Locust Manor are seniors, Sweeting-Lindsey said, and when she heard the Food Bank was organizing volunteers for the day of service, she jumped at the chance to invite them to southeast Queens.

Sweeting-Lindsey, herself a retired U.S. Army major, enlisted as her pâtissier Vanessa Richardson, whom she knew from bake sales at the nearby Allen AME Cathedral, to help show the volunteers the finer points of decorating the pre-baked cupcakes the seniors adorned.

Taking into consideration dietary restrictions, Richardson brought along low-sugar cupcakes and explained how cream cheese could be used in recipes to cut down on extreme sweetness.

She showed the volunteers how to fill pastry bags with icing and use different tips to help the seniors decorate their sweet treats.

The Food Bank said that across the five boroughs, more than 300 volunteers lent their hands between Friday and Monday, but help is needed beyond one weekend each year.

Volunteers are needed every day to stock shelves, sort donations at the organization’s warehouse and prepare meals for up to 400,000 New Yorkers.

Those interested in volunteering can visit or call 212-566-7855, Ext. 8350 for more information.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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