With Thanksgiving under a week away, Bethpage Federal Credit Union returned to helping those in need. The company again teamed up with Island Harvest to host their annual Turkey Drive in Bethpage on Friday.
The event came amid rises in food costs and inflation, and many families today are struggling to put food on their tables. Island Harvest President Randi Shubin Dresner says that 300,000 people depend on Island Harvest and their network. She adds that events like these are more important than ever to relieve the problem.
“We need to remember that there is a real problem of food insecurity here on Long Island, and if we all do something, we can really help our neighbors that are struggling,” Shubin Dresner said.
The event reached a special milestone this year, celebrating its 15th anniversary. Bethpage President Linda Armyn recalls meeting Shubin Dresner at a diner and discussing the idea.
“We had 15 days to plan it, and we got it off the ground in a Nor’easter. We collected 4,000 turkeys, which was the most we’ve ever collected, and we’ve been trying to meet that goal ever since,” Armyn said.
The drive began at 7:00 a.m. and ran throughout the day. By noon, the event collected over 2,800 turkeys, which impressed various employees.
Justin Merk, a business development relationship manager, was impressed by the support in the early going. “Everyone wants to get out for a little bit, drop off a turkey, drop off some canned goods,” Merk said. “If we’re at 2,800 not even by 12:00 p.m., we’re going to have a great finish to the day.”
Various local businesses made large donations to the effort. Splash Car Wash donated 100 turkeys, Forte Construction Corp provided multiple pallets of food, and Gabrielli Renting and Leasing provided a $5,000 donation to Island Harvest.
Robert Suarez, assistant vice president of community development, was flattered by the generosity shown by Long Islanders at the event.
“I think the generosity of our communities and all the members of our community is tremendous, and so we’re very appreciative of that,” Suarez said, adding it’s a great kickoff to the holiday season.
Kevin McKenna, an assistant vice president of business development national, has volunteered for the event every year. He is proud of how well attended the event is and says it reinforces the relationship between Bethapge and the community.
“One of the benefits of working for Bethpage is they really do truly mean it that they care about what you care about,” McKenna said. “They have a strong focus on helping communities in need and getting employees involved in those efforts.”
While the event has grown and changed over the 15 years, Armyn encourages people to volunteer and donate in the future. “Bethpage is committed to enriching the lives of our communities that we serve, and this is one way that we really partner and we’re at the heart of the community to bring happiness to other people.”