By Jessica Easthope
Bertha Duncan took her granddaughter Carmelle Ebony to get their Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 26. It’s a meal they feel blessed to have, which is why they’ll be sharing it on Thursday.
“We’re going to be sharing with some friends and another young couple who have a small child like they do,” she said, “and we’re going to come together and share with them to make sure they have a happy Thanksgiving. Some of them are coming, their families are not close, so we’ve become family to them.”
Even though Bertha’s granddaughter is young, she’s hoping moments like this will teach her the importance of generosity. The lesson is one she’s glad to pass on.
“I want her to know how to share her toys and her cookies, and that it will just make her smile to be happy with other children,” she said.
For most families, celebrating Thanksgiving with a feast is tradition. But for Mark D’Urso, he celebrates by giving.
For the last 20 years, the D’Urso family has donated all of the turkeys given out by Catholic Charities. It’s a tradition started by Mark’s late mother, Florence.
“It’s the smiles and the appreciation you get when they come up to you and they thank you, It’s a good feeling, you feel it inside,” he said. For Mark, the gratitude of the recipients makes his holiday season.
Although people come for the food, Catholic Charities hopes they leave feeling a sense of community.
“We provide help to people, that’s what the meal is. But we also try to create a sense of belonging: a sense of hope that people’s lives can be better and that they’re a part of our community even if maybe they don’t have as much as some of our neighbors,’ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of New York.
More than 21,000 pounds of food was distributed for Thanksgiving. However, for many of these families, the Catholic Charities food pantry at the Kennedy Community Center in Harlem provides them with assistance all year long.