N.B. CARES, a local relief assistance program, organizes the annual event in conjunction with the Nicholas J. Sacco Foundation, founded by State Sen. and Mayor Nicholas Sacco. Locals received free bags of trimming and turkeys to go.
This year, the town also delivered turkeys to the senior citizen buildings, and gave cooked meals to seniors who can’t cook for themselves. Between the seniors and families, over 1,500 turkeys were distributed, according to N.B. CARES Coordinator Aimee Focaraccio.
CarePoint Health and Angela Cares, run by District 31 Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, also donated to the cause, Focaraccio said.
“They help the poor,” said resident Karina Ali, of the town’s efforts, as she stood in line. “I’ve been very fortunate to get this from Mayor Sacco. They think of others.”
Years ago, before the drive, preparing for Turkey Day was difficult, she said. “I was very tight on cash,” she said. “I didn’t know this was happening until five years ago. This is like my Thanksgiving from the town.”
“I have my aunt and co-workers coming over,” said William Perez, who works for the town’s public affairs department, of his Thanksgiving plans after getting a turkey. Before he started going to the drive, Perez said he participated in sign-up lotteries for turkeys at Our Lady of Fatima Church, with no promise of getting one.
But “this is guaranteed,” he said.
Resident Stan Lary said he suffers from Crohn's Disease and is on Social Security, making the drive a great help.
“I’m really blessed,” he said, leaving the center after getting a turkey. “I’m really struggling right now.”
In years past, Lary said he had stable employment, so shopping at Thanksgiving was no problem. However, his company closed down.
“With my disease, it’s hard to find jobs, because I’m constantly in the hospital,” he said.
“I don’t have to buy anything,” said resident Kathy Walker. Her son and his family are coming to her home for Thanksgiving.
“The program in North Bergen is amazing,” said volunteer Jacky Wayand, of what inspired her to give her time. “They try to help everyone who needs assistance. And I feel that giving back to the town and townspeople is very important. And I enjoy the holiday.”
“We’re trying to help out families in need, can’t afford a meal for the holidays,” Focaraccio said. She added that “without our mayor, none of this would be possible.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org