WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Gina Schiliro, 8, has helped to serve Thanksgiving Day meals at the Grace Community Center soup kitchen in White Plains for the past three years, along with her sisters Paulina and Emma.
“Sort of like how my parents care for me, I care for other people,” Gina said of her service.
After hearing Gina’s comment, her father, who began volunteering at Grace Community about 10 years ago, grinned proudly. His older daughters Paulina, 16, and Emma, 14, both began volunteering at age 6, and he hopes the experience gives them perspective.
“We help people who need food to eat who don’t have the things we’re lucky to have,” said Gina, who helped decorate the dining room and prepared to-go bags of food.
Everyone who came for a meal also received a second meal to go, along with a to-go bag containing a sandwich, fruit and a drink. Diners were also able to take clothes donated to the nonprofit group, which served 120 people between noon and 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Less clothing was available this year because of Hurricane Sandy, which also limited donations of food leading up to the holiday. However, local organizations stepped up and filled Grace Community Center's supplies in time for Thanksgiving Day, said Emily Gallagher, volunteer coordinator.
Warren Livingston, of White Plains, is a regular at the soup kitchen at 33 Church St. and enjoyed a full Thanksgiving meal Thursday.
“They do a very good thing,” Livingston said.
Volunteers also delivered 192 meals to the homebound Thursday.
Ken Berman, who had organized the annual Thanksgiving dinner with his wife Allene for the past 24 years, died this year.
"Ken Berman was the personality behind this, getting a lot of the volunteers to come," said the Rev. Richard Kunz, of Grace Community Center. "We miss him a lot."
Grace Community Center will serve holiday meals for Christmas and New Year's, Gallagher said. To make a donation, call her at 914-949-3098, Ext. 9735. You can also make a monetary donation online.
Volunteers are also needed to help in the soup kitchen weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.