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By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Vickie Brown could not have been more appreciative for the Thanksgiving meal items she happily pulled along in a cart Saturday afternoon in the Sacred Heart School parking Lot; she doesn’t take one bit of the altruistic event, Newburgh Loaves & Fishes, Inc. that provided them, lightly.
“I used to volunteer for this very event at a church where I was a member,” recalled City of Newburgh resident Brown. “However, this year with everything going on, I had to be on the other side of things, putting my pride aside for my children as well as some others’ who will be at my home on Thanksgiving, and I will now be able to make a beautiful Thanksgiving meal for; I thank God that everyone can now be together.”
Brown, along with close to 700 others, was able to attain a large sized turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, and a host of other sides, in order to provide meals for their families. Thanks to the Annual Newburgh Loaves & Fishes, Inc. food distribution event, dating back to 1999, Thanksgiving dinners will be much more plentiful and cherished once again in the City of Newburgh.
The longstanding, philanthropic event was created when the Interfaith Council was trying to ensure that everyone in the City of Newburgh had a happy Thanksgiving. So, what initiated as a 75 meal home delivery venture has evolved into a highly successful mission that one year attracted 1300 guests for food pickup.
Its reach and impact have grown so much that it has attracted an assortment of political dignitaries, including New York State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson this year, who was all smiles, as he watched- and participated in- the efficient hand delivery of large, frozen turkeys from volunteers to guests outdoors.
“This is such a beautiful event for the community,” said Jacobson after handing a turkey to someone himself. “It really shows how much can be done when volunteers all come together.”
One of those hardworking, loyal volunteers was Linda Jansen who has been with Newburgh Loaves & Fishes, Inc. every year since its inception 22 years ago.
Spotted both in the school’s parking lot helping with turkey distribution as well as indoors keeping the lines moving at a steady pace, the bubbly and energetic Jansen, clad in a tee-shirt with the Newburgh Loaves & Fish, Inc. insignia, happily greeted and interacted with guests, enjoying every moment.
“It’s so incredibly rewarding seeing this event grow over the years,” said Jansen. “I truly love the fact that each year we have more and more volunteers, really reflecting the genuine care people have for their community.” Reflecting further as she surveyed the busy food distribution happenings inside, she added, “Holidays are a special time, and it’s extra special to be a part of adding to all that good stuff that we need more of, especially in today’s world.”