NEW YORK — Fifty New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen turned out to help New York Governor Kathy Hochul and her staff sort and package 3,200 donated turkeys at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.
“We are here to help with the National Guard, to show New Yorkers and our communities what New York State love is all about and we are going to get to work right away because there are families waiting for this,” Hochul said.
The Soldiers and Airmen bagged the 20-to-30-pound turkeys for distribution to needy families across New York. The turkeys were loaded into New York State Department of Transportation vehicles and trucked across the state for distribution events on Tuesday, Nov. 23, from Buffalo to Long Island.
The National Guard continued their support at three distributions sites, providing the turkeys directly to the community.
In the Hudson Valley town of Kingston, 10 Airmen from the 105th Airlift Wing and 10 Soldiers from the 53rd Troop Command helped distribute the turkeys at the Salvation Army building.
In Roosevelt on Long Island, 10 Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing and 10 Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division helped pass out turkeys at the Police Activity League building.
And in Harlem 20 Soldiers and Airmen were assigned to Joint Task Force Empire Shield, the New York National Guard security force in New York City helped distribute the birds at Memorial Baptist Church in Harlem.
“The state is thankful for the assistance of the National Guard, the kindness of corporations statewide and Feeding New York State for working with us to ensure 3,200 households will have turkeys on their tables this Thanksgiving holiday,” Hochul said.
The turkeys were donated by several corporations, including Amazon, The Coca-Cola Company, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, Golub Family Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York, China General Chamber of Commerce, MetLife, and Geico.
Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, who joined Hochul for the Javits Center event, said that Guard Soldiers and Airmen like doing these kinds of missions.
“After more than a year and a half of support to our communities during the state’s COVID-19 response, the men and women of our New York National Guard are glad to be part of an event like this that helps give back to our communities,” Shields said.
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Danny Collado, a member of the 145th Support Maintenance Company, said he enjoyed working alongside the governor for packing turkeys at Javits.
National Guard Soldiers have been asked to help prepare Thanksgiving meals in the past, and it’s always a good mission, Collado said.
This year, with many people still hurting economically from the pandemic, it is even more important to help, Collado said.
“I am honored to serve and help the governor in making a difference on Thanksgiving,” Collado said. “Our hard work will help our neighbors and children in need this holiday.”
Army National Guard 1st Lt. Stephanie Sylvain, the officer in charge of the turkey packing detail, said she was happy to be part of the mission.
“This year has been challenging for many people, especially those who have lost their jobs and are grieving the loss of loved ones due to the devastating effect of COVID-19,” Sylvain said.
“It is a gesture of compassion for me to be a part of this mission, knowing that thousands of families will not have to buy food for Thanksgiving and can use that money for their utility bill,” she added.
“I hope this Thanksgiving we will give people a sense of dignity that comes with having families over, cooking great food and catching up over the last two years”, she said. “As a National Guard officer, I am delighted to contribute to the well-being of this community.”
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