By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – For Ann Simon, it revolves around one word: Sharing; while, Carlos Santana calls it a blessing.
Both volunteers at Newburgh’s Loaves & Fishes, Inc. annual event, held at the City of Newburgh’s Anne Street, Deacon Jack Seymour Food Pantry for the second year in a row, could not think of any place they would rather be. Assisting with distributing a host of items to assemble an entire Thanksgiving meal to Newburgh community members, the two were part of something close to their hearts and souls: Giving.
“This is our fifth year here (at Loaves & Fishes, Inc.), and we donate products to the pantry here once a week,” said a smiling Simon, who works for Coca Cola and was wearing the company’s logo on a red tee-shirt as she passed out bread to guests and interacted with them. “Today is all about sharing and making sure everyone has a meal, stays warm and safe and is healthy; it’s just such a good time.”
Those precious moments, filled with food, laughter, smiles, hot cocoa and other intangibles, has been made possible by Newburgh’s Loaves & Fishes, Inc. since its official start in the year 2000. Beginning as a faith-based coalition, serving the community of Newburgh residents, it has evolved, as about ten more agencies have come on board, and each year the Thanksgiving gesture has grown. Its location has also seen some changes over the years; presently landing at the Deacon Jack Seymour Food Pantry, led by Directors Linda and Paul Zalanowski.
“The best part about having this event here has been being able to serve the amount of people in Newburgh that this event does,” explained Linda Zalanowski. “It has really increased in numbers, and it’s so nice to be a part of helping out with it, especially during the holidays.”
Receiving assists in contributions from church donations as well as the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Newburgh’s Loaves & Fishes was well stocked for Saturday’s distribution with such items as; fresh vegetables, canned beans and cranberry sauce, stuffing, crackers, chips, bread, gravy, desserts, and of course turkeys, plenty of turkeys. Lines began forming outside of the Pantry soon after sunrise and continued to grow throughout the morning and early afternoon. It’s an event that many look forward to all year and are truly grateful to have exist.
One of the patrons, fifth year visitor and City of Newburgh resident, Elizabeth Patterson, was all smiles as she loaded up her cart for the eight people she will be cooking for this Thursday.
“This event is just so good, and I always only take what I need; my favorite item is the escarole which I make with olive oil and onions,” said Patterson, as she made her way over to the final stop: Turkey pick-up. “It really shows how people care about people, and it’s truly appreciated, especially during the holiday time of the year.”