Volunteer at Local Soup Kitchens and Homeless Shelters for Thanksgiving

Friends in need: Consider showing your gratitude this holiday by giving to others, like the Queens Galley in Kingston and Soup Angels in Nyack

There are many Valleyites who have less to give thanks for. Those who help the poor and homeless often feel that they get even more than they give. Ironically, Thanksgiving is perhaps the only day of the year that soup kitchens and homeless shelters usually don’t need extra volunteers. So consider offering your help in the days before the holiday, when prep work and organizational skills are required. And you can always donate money, as these groups live on the knife’s edge of financial solvency. Here are just two of the Valley’s many worthy organizations that could use your largesse.

The Queens Galley in Kingston, under director Diane Reeder, has been serving the needy for 10 years. There were rumors last year that the place was going to shut down due to lack of funding; Reeder says the galley is looking to move into a new, less costly building in 2014 — “this one is disintegrating, and we can’t afford to stay here” — which should help secure the organization’s financial footing. She says Thanksgiving is actually one of her slower days (she still serves about 350 meals) because there are so many other places to eat on that day. “The day after, though, we get inundated,” she says. For that reason, she needs volunteers in the days before the holiday to do the prep work on 200 pounds of turkey and all the traditional trimmings, including everyone’s favorite: green bean casserole. All the remains are served the day after as leftovers. “That’s the best part anyway,” she says. “It’s all about the sandwich, right?”

Some say her meals are too elaborate, but Reeder strongly disagrees. “We will have four or five different vegetables, but the food is already here and it doesn’t cost extra to prepare it,” she says. “Some people think you only need boil-in-the-bag corn and minute rice, but this is meant to be a celebration. The days of serving government cheese and bad food to people because they are poor are over. They should still have access to whole foods that taste and look amazing. I would cook the same way for the president as I do for the homeless under the bridge. They all deserve the same amount of respect” (845-338-3468 or www.thequeensgalley.org). 

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Soup Angels, which works out of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, hosts dinner at the church the day before Thanksgiving. “This is our eighth annual feast, a sit-down dinner for about 200 with a traditional meal in a decorated room with china settings,” says Katie Berry, a member of the steering committee. The meal, from 4-7 p.m., is free — “no questions asked for anyone in need of a meal or companionship,” she says. Soup Angels also arranges for about 1,500 meals to be distributed to other organizations in the county, like the Martin Luther King Center in Spring Valley and local schools and senior centers. “We don’t need volunteers for the holiday dinners — though we welcome them throughout the year,” Berry says. But “we do need donations” (www.soupangels.com).


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