Early on Sunday morning, 10 mainly gray and silver haired men from the Brotherhood of the met at the front entrance of in Port Washington.
This same group and others like them have been meeting on the Sunday before Thanksgiving for over 20 years. They meet out of respect for and in memory of Phil Seinfeld, who passed away all too soon many years ago. Phil started the first Brotherhood Thanksgiving Food drive to benefit the Parish Outreach program at in Manorhaven.
Under the direction of Sister Kathy, Parish Outreach has been giving out dinners for 30 years to those who are not able to provide a Thanksgiving meal to their families. They are not just parishioners but anyone who calls the Outreach and demonstrates a need.
In other times, the Brotherhood men using long shopping lists would race through the store aisles with flying carts, creating mayhem wherever they landed. Some of the younger guys headed for the turkeys which needed strong backs. Those in their 70s and 80s would head for the much lighter bread stuffing. When all gathered at checkout, Bob Richter, who took over the program after Phil had died, would send us back to collect what was missing.
Checkout was a nightmare as cashiers tried to keep up with scanning 200-300 items; then scanning the many coupons we had collected. Over the years, the folks at King Kullen have helped out by pre-boxing and tallying every item in advance, which if truth be told, has removed some of the excitement and mayhem.
At last, our band of Brothers loaded the crates and cartons onto SUVs and into car trunks; then took the short journey to the Parish parking lot on Manorhaven Boulevard.
There, teams of volunteers led by Sister Kathy, met us and we all moved the 40 full dinners to kitchen freezers and onto tables set-up by food group. With our work done, we all returned home knowing that we left the world a little brighter that day. Later on Sunday, the Parish opened its doors to 77 invited families to receive one of the turkey dinners.
In a later conversation with Sister Kathy after everyone had gone, she said, "I want to thank all who made this possible, the Community Synagogue Brotherhood, Tweezerman, St. Stephen's Church, the Interfaith group and the Girl Scouts among others."
Over the years, the Brotherhood has continued to increase the number of family dinners it provides.
"There really is no limit to how many dinners we could donate," said Bob Richter, a past president said. "In these times, too many will not experience the comfort of a family sitting around a Thanksgiving dining room table. But we do feel that others will want to join us in our effort by contacting Sister Kathy about making a food donation in 2012."