Anticipating more families in need this year given the financial blows dealt by the pandemic, the Bayport Civic Association mobilized to raise even more funding for their Thanksgiving turkey initiative.
For the past 17 years, the BCA, along with the Junior Bayport Civic Association, has collected donations in order to hand out free turkeys for Thanksgiving and worked with the Bayport United Methodist Church, Our Lady of the Snow R.C Church in Blue Point, and with nurses in the schools to identify and give out turkeys to those in need since 2004.
BCA president Bob Draffin estimates that in the 17 years they have been providing this charitable act, they have given out over eight tons of turkeys. At an average of 15 pounds a turkey, that’s over 1,000 Thanksgiving main courses distributed.
With the pandemic this year, touch-to-touch turkeys were thought to be too high risk, so money will instead be used to give out gift cards to individuals and families in need.
“In previous years, we’ve just handed out turkeys at each site,” said Draffin, “but this year, due to COVID-19, we wanted to do a no-hand delivery, so we’ve opted for gift cards instead.”
This is also the first year that the fundraising for the turkeys has been done online, and it has been quite successful on Facebook.
“I never doubted the community,” said Draffin. “I know how generous people have been in the past, and I knew they would be even more helpful this year with the additional strain of the pandemic.”
Within 11 hours of the fundraiser being posted by Draffin, BCA met its $2,500 mark with mostly local donors.
Bob Venero, a local Bayport philanthropist, who has worked with Draffin for years on this fundraiser, offered an initial donation of $2,500, with an additional $2,500 to match community donations.
After less than a week, the online donations had reached over $4,000 (and with Venero’s $5,000, brought the grand total up to $9,000).
“I make it known that I donate and support causes so that I can inspire and motivate others to also participate,” said Venero.
The turkey donations have long been a quiet charity in its distribution in the Bayport-Blue Point region, as both Draffin and Venero both want people to retain their dignity while receiving help.
“Here in the local community, there’s a perception that we all lead the good life in Bayport-Blue Point,” said Draffin, “but there are people who are struggling who need help, especially during the holidays.”