Tag Archives: coalition for the homeless

Gobble Gobble Give.

11 Nov

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and you know what that means: you’ll soon be eating the biggest, most delicious meal of the year followed by a  delightfully acceptable food coma immediately afterward. Unfortunately,  not everyone in this city will be able to celebrate and give thanks,  because they may not be able to afford the basic necessities, let alone a stuffed turkey with all the fixin’s. Luckily, there are a lot of  organizations that will be delivering food over the next week leading up to (and on) Thanksgiving day. Here are a few that may need your help:


Yorkville Common Pantry: Located on the Upper East Side/East Harlem line, this is one of the city’s largest food pantries. Every year they have a Turkey Drive that runs from late August all the way up to Thanksgiving Day. A $30 donation is enough to give Thanksgiving Dinner to a family of 5; YCP serves about 2,000 families in need, so as you can imagine, they need a lot of turkeys. They may also need a hand organizing and distributing the donations from their pantry. Please contact Stefana Soitos at 917-720-9722, or at ssoitos@ycp.org for more information about donating turkeys, and visit the website for information about the abundant volunteer opportunities they have available.


God’s Love We Deliver: They need delivery volunteers to deliver their clients’ meals and Thanksgiving baskets all over NYC and parts of New Jersey on the morning of Thursday, November 25th.  You must have a car and a partner to deliver. Please contact Emily at efindley@glwd.org for details. Sidenote: They will also be delivering their Winter Holiday meal on Friday, December 24th (aka Christmas Eve day). If you want to plan ahead, email Emily and let her know you’ll be able to help out.


City Meals-On-Wheels: Much like God’s Love, Meals-On-Wheels will likely need help preparing and delivering meals next week to the home-bound clients that they serve. Visit their website for more information about volunteering, and let them know you’re able to help on Thanksgiving.


Coalition for the Homeless: This organization delivers food, clothing and blankets by truck to 31 stops in Manhattan and the Bronx. The Grand Central Food program has three vans that operate 6:30-9:30 p.m. every night of the year, including Thanksgiving. Visit the website to see the full routes, and for more information about volunteering, please email volunteer@cfthomeless.org.


St John’s Bread and Life: This pantry is located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. There are a slew of volunteer opportunities available, so contact them and find out where they may need some extra hands next week (or in general!): the main Soup Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, the food pantry is open 5 days a week, and the Mobile Soup Kitchen -a compact, mobile extension of Bread and Life- serves daily hot meals and provides outreach services to a number of New York City’s most impoverished communities located in East New York, Brownsville, Jackson Heights, Coney Island and Williamsburg.


Love Kitchen: Join the NYC Urban Project on Saturday, November 20th, as they pack and serve 500 lunches for those in need of a meal in Washington Heights for “Feed 500” from 9am-5pm. You’ll not only be packing the lunches, but you’ll take to the streets to deliver them while sharing a story or two. This is more than a food delivery to the needy; this is an attempt to connect you to the people that you’re helping, taking away the barrier of coming from different places, and just enjoying a meal. Visit the Urban Project website for more details about what you’ll need, and if you’re interested in volunteering please contact nycurbanproject@gmail.com . You can go solo or with a group, and if the 9-5 shift seems like too much, you’re also able to choose between a morning or afternoon shift.


Church of the Holy Trinity: On the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Holy Trinity will need volunteers to prepare and package food. On Thanksgiving day, volunteers heat and prepare food for takeout, and deliver meals to recipients’ homes. Shifts are spread out over various days and hours, so it looks like a good fit for someone with a busy 9-5 type job. To volunteer, email Lydia Colon. If you miss out on Thanksgiving, check out their website for more year-round opportunities.


Updated 11/11 Feeding NYC: They need over 300 people to help assemble, pack and deliver meals for Thanksgiving, and are hoping to reach 8,000 families this year. Visit their website to read more about the organization, and fill out this form to sign up for volunteering on November 23rd during one of the 5 shifts available. If you can’t make it on the 23rd, you can go to the Hudson Terrace on November 18th instead; Feeding NYC will be having a cocktail party to help raise money for all the Thanksgiving meals they’ll be giving out (tickets are $35 or $105. Details here)


Updated 11/23: Time Out New York listed some more opportunities on their website. Check it out for some last minute ideas!


So there you have it. Before you sit down for the gluttony that is a Thanksgiving Day feast, take a few hours to give back to others less fortunate than you. Trust me, it’ll make you feel truly thankful for all that you have.


Are you an organization that needs volunteers for the holidays? Do you know of opportunities available? Contact me at info@giveandgetnyc.com or comment below so I can add to this post!

Delivering Meals with Coalition for the Homeless

9 Dec

What: Delivering meals to the homeless and hungry

Where: Traveling by van throughout Manhattan, through New York Cares

When: Saturdays and Sundays (with New York Cares), 6:45pm-10pm

Last Saturday I helped deliver meals with Coalition for the Homeless who, according to their website, “Each night, a fleet of vans delivers life-saving meals of hearty stew, bread, fresh fruit, and juice or milk to approximately 1,000 people. During the past year, the Grand Central Food Program served more than 365,000 meals to homeless and hungry New Yorkers.”

You’ll meet up with the other volunteers and 3 vans outside of a church in Murray Hill. After everyone checks in, you’ll be assigned a route (there are three, hence the three vans) and be on your way to Upper Manhattan, Downtown, or the Bronx. There are designated stops along each route, which have been in place for years, ensuring that those who need to eat will know where to go, simply because the Coalition will always be there, in the same place at relatively the same time, every day of the week.

I was in the Downtown Van, which made 7 stops: 35th St. under FDR Drive, Housing Court/Chinatown @ Lafayette & Leonard St., Staten Island Ferry, Sunshine Hotel/Bowery Mission, 6th Ave. bet. Washington & Waverly Pl., Madison Square Park, and last was Penn Station/KMart. The vans will usually have 3-5 volunteers, including an experienced driver. The first thing we had to do once we got on our way was to begin opening plastic bags, to save time for later when we were to hand them out.

At every stop, each volunteer has a specific responsibility and everything is done quickly-its basically an assembly line. The clients (people waiting for food), will line up and receive a plastic bag from a volunteer, as two more volunteers open the back doors of the van and open boxes of food. Each night the meal will vary; last week we had oranges, milk, juice, turkey sandwiches and mustard. Clients will walk up to the van, bags open, and volunteers will simply put everything inside for them. Some people were very specific about what they wanted: one person told me I was crazy if I thought he wanted a milk carton in his bag, and to place it in his hand. Silly me, I guess. Other people will take everything, and then swap or give away the things they don’t want to other people in line; it’s interesting to see an entire community of people, so downtrodden, helping each other more than most people in NYC with a house to sleep in. But I digress…

A few things about the Chinatown stop, which I was told in advance to allay any panic: there are usually about 100-150 people at this stop, separated into two lines, men and women. This is not a requirement of the Coalition, it’s just something that happens only in Chinatown. This group is also very pushy and most of them do not speak any English, so things get very tense. Be prepared. For some reason, the night I volunteered there was only one line, which we later assumed was done in an attempt to confuse us. Or maybe they just didn’t feel like making two lines-I have no idea. Regardless, because there were so many people with heavy coats and hats and gloves, some got back into line and claimed they never got food, demanding a bag, and we were unable to tell who was who. It got a little hectic as we tried to determine who had already received food, relying mainly on the volunteer who had handed out the bags. Everything got resolved after about 10 minutes, and most clients left happy except for 1 very old, very fragile woman, who refused to leave without a second bag. We were back in the van pulling away, as she began banging on the side of the van with her cane, yelling in Chinese. My feelings are that if you’re that desperate for food, 80+ years old employing your cane as a weapon, you probably really need it. We all agreed and the head volunteer got out and gave her more.

As I’ve probably said before, the projects I most enjoy doing are those which involve direct contact with people, as it allows you to see the difference you’re making. It feels really good. I also got to talk briefly with some of the clients; one who gave me a quick history of a nearby church dating back to the 1700’s, and another who hands out his own plastic bags before the van gets there, as a way of saying thank you. Other things to know:

  • Don’t be afraid to hold your ground to anyone being aggressive, attempting to get more food or cutting the line. They know the rules, you know the rules. Eventually they will leave or follow instructions.
  • Dress for the weather! It’s December right now-drinking hot cocoa with the heat pumping in the van is not only not an option, it’s a slap in the face to the people waiting for food who may be sleeping outside that night. So don’t forget your scarf, and get out there..
  • Don’t wear gloves, unless they’re the latex kind. Its inevitable that something will be leaking and getting everything else wet, be it milk or juice. Utilize the hand sanitizer after each stop that is available in the van, or bring your own.
  • No one can get seconds until everyone on line gets firsts, if there is even enough. Check with the head volunteer if you’re unsure; they will be able to determine if there is enough food in the van for the remaining stops and clients.
  • Coalition for the Homeless has four other programs that depend on volunteers, in addition to the Grand Central Food Program: Camp Homeward Bound, the Development Department, First Step , and the Advocacy Department. Click here to read more about these opportunities and contact information to sign up.