‘Last minute’ turkeys a lifesaver for many

STAN HUDY/STAFF WRITEREmani Fleming of Schenectady hands a Stewart's gift card to a patron during the Schenectady Community Ministries' Thanksgiving meal giveaway Wednesday morning.
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STAN HUDY/STAFF WRITER
Emani Fleming of Schenectady hands a Stewart's gift card to a patron during the Schenectady Community Ministries' Thanksgiving meal giveaway Wednesday morning.

SCHENECTADY — The Steed sisters started the day wondering how they were going to feed their families.

And the twins came across a post on social media.

“Need a last minute turkey?” asked Schenectady Community Ministries.

They did.

Hours later, Alysa and Nicolia placed the birds in the back of their car, relieved that they would be able to break bread, after all.

Something to be thankful for.

It’s been a tough year for Alysa Steed, a nurse who is out on maternity leave.

Nicolia, too, is a young mother.

“Children eat,” Nicolia said. “Any little bit is really able to help.”

The impromptu giveaway at Schenectady Community Ministries on Wednesday was just the latest in a series of holiday distribution events, joining a pair of previous events that distributed hundreds of turkeys to people in need.

People stamped their feet in the cold outside of the non-profit’s Albany Street location as they waited for bags of food stuffed with the essentials for a holiday feast, from vegetables to boxes of macaroni and cheese.

And of course, the turkeys.

“This has been more than a blessing,” Harriet Casler said.

Natasha Sammarian was laid off from her retail job in the pandemic. Her husband, too, is unemployed. And with three children at home, times are rough.

Sammarian is having trouble navigating the bureaucracy to enroll for SNAP benefits, and all of the family’s food comes from the pantry.

“Whatever we get, it’s whatever we eat for the rest of the week,” Sammarian said.

The food pantry, she said, helps a lot of people.

“It’s been a great big help.”

Volunteers and staff worked with swift precision packing bags and distributing them to guests as cheerful soul music thumped overhead.

The regional Food Bank has been a regular pipeline for items, and turkeys were also donated by private citizens and corporate sponsors, including Trustco Bank, as well as state programs like Nourish New York, which steers surplus meat and dairy from the state’s farmers and dairy manufacturers to hungry households.

Organizers said they’re just happy to help.

“I feel very good that they know the pantry is a place that they can come to,” said Pearl Tucker-Hunter, food pantry manager.

The site serves 80 to 90 families per week, said Jo-Anne Rafalik, executive director of Schenectady Community Ministries.

Many are new faces.

“It feels good knowing that people are going to have a dinner,” Rafalik said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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