FeedingNYC 2015: Spreading Holiday Cheer One Meal at a Time
As the overnight shift trickled out into the wee hours of Tuesday, November 24, 2015, the next wave of volunteers started to arrive at Chelsea Pier 60 as early as 5 a.m. They were there to pack thousands of Thanksgiving meals with turkeys and all the traditional trimmings (stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables, dessert, and more) to be delivered later that afternoon to families in need across New York City.
Since 2001, LivePerson employees have participated in FeedingNYC, a nonprofit founded by our CEO Rob LoCascio, to spread a little more holiday cheer every November. This year, our staff volunteered their day to give meals to 3,500 families in New York’s homeless shelters.
A little background: Homelessness has been a huge problem in our city for a long time. In recent years, homelessness has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As of September, there were 59,305 homeless people — including more than 14,000 families and 23,923 children — in NYC’s municipal shelter system.
Rob started FeedingNYC in 2001, with New Yorkers (and the world) still shocked by the tragedies of 9/11. He just wanted to give something back to the city, during a time when everything seemed so bleak. As the holidays were approaching, he started with Thanksgiving, because everyone deserves to celebrate with a hot and hearty meal. Back then, only a handful of team members prepped and delivered 70 meals to a shelter for abused women and children in Harlem. And it’s just grown from there.
By 11 a.m. last Tuesday, volunteer teams in six vans were on their way to hand-deliver 3,500 boxes to more than 40 shelters throughout New York’s five boroughs. Just $35 can feed a family on Thanksgiving, and, thanks to generous donations to the cause, FeedingNYC raised $23,000 this year. To date, FeedingNYC has provided more than 40,000 dinners to local shelters. And we won’t stop there.
I want to share one story from last Tuesday. We were delivering to a shelter where most of the residents are victims of domestic violence. As my team brought in boxes of food, a little boy looked up at me and asked what was in them. I told him they were turkey dinners for Thanksgiving. I then asked, “Have you ever eaten a turkey before?” He hadn’t. This would be the first time he ever had a real Thanksgiving dinner. We were all touched to be a part of it.
“$35 — that’s the cost of the turkey and all the trimmings. And that’s a small price to pay to show someone that you care and that they matter. It’s more than just a meal — you are reaching out and touching someone’s life.”
— Rob LoCascio, founder of FeedingNYC and LivePerson CEO
Pernell S. Brice III, director of entrepreneurial programs at the Dream Big Foundation, helped spearhead FeedingNYC with LivePerson. He finds the most rewarding part to be “the appreciation and gratitude of the FeedingNYC Thanksgiving box recipients” as well as “witnessing the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm of the volunteers.” And the volunteers couldn’t agree more: “When the city hosts you, and it's a very welcoming place, it's important to do something that shows compassion to the city you're visiting,” said Faye, who was visiting New York from the UK and chose to spend the day volunteering at FeedingNYC. "It gives you an idea of how people are really living." Neil, her husband, added, "Society has a responsibility to the less fortunate to give them an opportunity to celebrate like everybody else."
FeedingNYC takes place every Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day. Follow FeedingNYC on Facebook for updates throughout the year and to find out how you can participate in 2016, when we’ll be gathering again on November 22.
Lastly, we’d like to extend special thanks to our sponsors: Manhattan Mini Storage, Pier Sixty, Orrick, Proskauer, Wegmans, Joyride Coffee, FlatRate Moving, Monster Savings, William Gallagher Associates, Yotel, McGladrey, StructuredWeb, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Fairway, Lawless Jerky, and Wolff Photography. Without your support, FeedingNYC wouldn’t be the success it is today.