Staten Island Rotary Thanksgiving Drive

On Friday evening, the ingredients came together for a picture-perfect Thanksgiving for many families who might not have been so fortunate.
Members of Staten Island's five Rotary clubs – the North Shore, Mid-Island, Gateway, South Shore and Staten Island – gathered in the bottom floor of the Community Resources building to make sure less fortunate borough residents received the necessary items to celebrate the holiday.
Some 75 Rotary members, plus some helpful teens, formed an assembly line to fill up 984 empty boxes with canned corn and beans, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, stuffing and more.
"Ten items went into each box, and each box was set up for a Saturday morning delivery that would include a turkey", said Mike D'Angelo, who co-chaired the giveaway with Paul Scamardella, president of the North Shore Rotary.
"It's one of the projects all the Rotaries look forward to," said D'Angelo, of Eltingville.
"It's amazing what we do here," said Chris Miata, one of the volunteers who was instrumental in piecing each box together.
D'Angelo said that the North Shore Rotary started what has become an annual tradition in the late 1970s.
Over the next 10 years, the Rotary Club of Staten Island and the South Shore Rotary Club joined in.
By the early 1990s, all five clubs were working together.
Approximately $25,000 was raised by the clubs to pay for the food that will go to group homes, churches, shelters and non-profit groups, as well as Staten Islanders in need.
"Recommendations are submitted by Rotary members", said D'Angelo.
"This is what it's all about: Service about self," he said. "It's all about the Island and the community."
He said children can learn a great deal from the effort.
George Vikos, a former New Dorp High School teacher who still runs the school's Interact Club, sponsored by the Rotary, brought a group of past and present students.
A friend of his had contributed once by making a delivery on a Saturday afternoon to a woman who was hoping for a Thanksgiving meal.
"She actually held him in a bear hug and wouldn't let him go.
"That's how happy she was", said Vikos.
One of his students, Jeanine Angotti, of Rosebank, a senior at the New Dorp High School, said it feels good to help.
"Everybody at some point in their life needs something. You give good, you're going to get good," she said.
Ms. Angotti said that people need assistance more now than in the past because of lost jobs and the economic crisis.
The boxes were fully packed by 8:30 p.m. and the turkeys arrived 10 hours later, the next morning, to complete the Thanksgiving giveaways, which would be delivered by drivers using trucks donated by numerous Island groups and companies, including Community Resources and the Staten Island Advance.
All packages had been delivered by noon on Saturday.
"It worked out real nice. We handed out almost a thousand food baskets, which translates to probably four, five or six people getting fed," said D'Angelo. "It's quite an achievement."
Staten Island has five Rotary groups, all of which have a goal of providing humanitarian service and encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations.
The Rotary motto is "Service Above Self."
Since its inception in 1962, Staten Island Rotary Foundation (SIRF) has distributed over $1.5 million either in the form of grants to Staten Island organizations, disaster and hardship relief in both the United States and overseas or in scholarships.
The Rotary Club of Staten Island sponsors an Interact Club, a service and social club for young people ages 14-18, guiding the teens in developing local and international service projects.