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Astoria community groups, lawmaker donate hundreds of frozen turkeys before Thanksgiving

Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas joined with Queens Together to donate 1,000 turkeys to families in need. (Photo credit to González-Rojas' office)

Grassroots community organizations along with Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas joined together on Thursday, Nov. 18, to distribute frozen turkeys to families across the borough still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Queens Together, a nonprofit supporting restaurants, paid for the turkeys with the help of sponsors like Kaufman Astoria Studios, Innovation QNS, Sysco Foods and TF Cornerstone. Volunteers went all over Queens to deliver food to those in need. 

“It’s been a difficult time for so many and communities were not getting the turkey donations they would normally get this time of year,” said Jonathan Forgash, co-founder and executive director of Queens Together. “We teamed up and found a way to give 1,000 families a delicious Thanksgiving.”

The team gathered at the Variety Boys and Girls Club (VBGC) in Astoria to kick off the day. Costa Constantinides, CEO of Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, said that the organization was grateful to partner with Queens Together to serve families across the borough. 

Volunteers load up the trucks with turkeys before handing them out to families across Queens. (Photo courtesy of Queens Together)

“Their donation of 100 turkeys to our VBGC families and facilitating hundreds more to other nonprofits is truly in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday,” Constantinides said. “These turkeys will ensure many families celebrate their holiday with a good meal this year. We thank them for their good work. “

González-Rojas also joined the effort because she realized the borough has been facing immense hardship since the pandemic and wanted to bring some relief to families this Thanksgiving. 

As of September, the unemployment rate in Queens reached 8.6% compared to 14.6% the following year. The pandemic caused a massive wave of unemployment, and though the city is recovering, but González-Rojas still knows there is suffering in her community.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities in Queens suffered from historical and ongoing food insecurity,” González-Rojas said. “This has been exacerbated by the expiration of pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits and other federal assistance. The truth is that the past year and a half has been incredibly difficult for us all, especially our most vulnerable and neglected neighbors. That is why during this holiday season, I am incredibly grateful to Queens Together, Jonathan Forgash and all of the community groups for contributing turkeys to 1,000 families in need.”

Other community groups like NYCHA Astoria Houses, Zone126.org and more also sponsored the donation efforts.

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