Thanks for giving as the Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless at Hillel draws many volunteers
By Bruce Crane
On Wednesday November 21st there was a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at the Tanger Hillel Building. All ages were present to a World War 2 Holocaust survivor who had appropriate words for the day. There were dozens of volunteers to possibly over 200 when you count the preparation days and fed almost 150 and 75 children. The volunteers were from Hillel clubs to sororities to fraternities, to non-affiliated helpers that pitched in to help, enjoy the food and dance and for thoughts on the day.
Fraternities AEPI, XBN and Kappa Sigma and sororities GBD and AEP were contributing with their help and spirit. The room was full. It started off with thoughts of what we have to be thankful for this day. Hillel has done a lot of work for this event, Hurricane Sandy and all year. They had food and can drives for weeks. There was a room of clothes and doggie bags for the homeless. From this hurricane we could all be homeless.
The traditional turkey, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes were served. This year’s turkey had gravy that really brought out the taste. There were 34 homeless adults and kids from the Women in Need (WIN) Shelter on Atlantic Avenue and the Urban Traditional had 45 people from East New York. Thirty homeless that were not from shelters, came by.
Student Marie Hawkins is going for 3 bachelor degrees simultaneously and says the volunteers serving the food were very generous and gracious. Ted Chattah graduated from BC and has been volunteering for 8 years. He says he enjoys the people and helping out. He feels like home at Hillel.
Entertainer Verbal Ase did vocal impression and sound effects for the kids to guess. Fraternities and sororities said they were looking to give back to the community. Fraternity XBN (which used to be called Sammy) entertained the young kids. They had them sketching and playing games. This semester they will have a golf outing to raise money for Autism and a park cleanup. Global Medical Brigades Emily Callejo was blowing up balloons for kids to make into animal shapes and soon you heard a big popping noise as they broke it.
[Everyone coming together]
DJ Kake Levin had the dance moving with the most popular songs being “Thriller” and “Macarana’. Other favorites were Lip Gloss, Cha Cha side and the Chicken Dance. Dances ranged from the Electric Glide, Cha Cha Slide, line dances to break dancing. Many children were from 7 to 10 years and showed the fun of the dances.
Hillel program Director Yelena Azriyel said this year they opened their doors to victims of Hurricane Sandy. There has been an emphasis to feed the people of the community. There has been a lot of hard work coordinating and collecting clothes, food and decorations. Many students volunteered after the storm to help in Sea Gate and BrightonBeach.
Hillel always has the Thanksgiving Diner the day before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving the college and government buildings are closed. Many are with families that have them so it makes sense to do it that day. Hillel President Howard Wohl said 2000 students came through the building in the last year. VP Francis Irwin of Hillel’s Board of Directors did a lot of organizing. Irwin said Hillel is funded by private money, UJA, other organizations and endowments.
She is from Poland and lost 7 brothers and sisters in the holocaust of World War Two. She was an Auschwitz concentration camp and in 2 others in Austria. She tried to get to Palestine which later became Israel. Her ship was sent back and she got sick and was hospitalized. Very luckily she got to the United States.
In America she wanted to give back and help people as she appreciated those that helped her in her time of need. She worked in a nursing home and then many charities. At B’nai B’rith she remembered they delivered packages for Chanukah to people’s houses in need. She brought that tradition to Hillel. She wants students to learn from charity.
She donates a lot of money to Hillel. She donated a special bench for the Hillel lobby. Hillel in appreciation had a plaque on it with her name saying “Transformers of lives with unending love”. In the back courtyard there is a street sign saying “Francis Way”. She has been involved with Hillel for 30 years. People from the Holocaust to the storm and homeless children are thankful to be alive and all this ties into a Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless. Francis Irwin was dancing with 7 year olds and the children had trouble keeping up with her. There is a life cycle and where there is life there is hope.