Brick parishioners expand Thanksgiving meal assistance, drive to hundreds of homes
Story by EmmaLee Italia, Contributing Editor
Photos by Joe Moore
Sharing Thanksgiving food and fellowship is something the less fortunate of Brick have looked forward to each year for the past 25 years, thanks to the efforts of Epiphany Parish. This year, parish volunteers worked with the Ocean County Meals on Wheels program and delivered 1,125 Thanksgiving meals to people’s homes.
Photo Gallery: See more photos from Thanksgiving Day in Epiphany, Brick
“I think 25 years shows the dedication of the people of the parish to make sure that in everything we do, we’re living out what the Gospel calls us to do,” said Father Michael A. Santangelo, parish pastor. “I’ve shared with the parish before, my favorite parable is ‘when you did this for the least among you, you did it for me.’ And that’s what we’re about.”
The meals were prepared and assembled Thanksgiving Day in the church hall, including traditional turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and desserts, then packaged in bags for delivery. Even the carved turkey remainders were repurposed into turkey soup.
“This dinner is especially important to me because when I was a nurse working in Leisure Village [age-restricted community], my mom would make dinners for the folks who would be alone so they would have something for Thanksgiving,” parishioner Sue Hermida said. “So when I had the opportunity here at Epiphany to do this, I grabbed it.”
The Meals on Wheels program doesn’t deliver meals on the holidays, Hermida explained, so the parish stepped in to provide the personnel and cook the food.
“This is an excellent opportunity for people not only to have a meal, but also some fellowship,” she continued. “A lot of times, the deliverers are the only people they see during the day.”
Traditionally, the entire meal would be hosted at Epiphany Church. But with many of the guests from the Housing Authority of Brick unable to travel and the parish unable to transport them this year, they decided on the delivery option.
“But the people who want to have the holiday in a festive, community setting, we have the dining room set up in a buffet style,” Hermida noted. “We have 35-40 people partaking this year.”
Outreach was one aspect that drew parishioner Jen Grenier to Epiphany Parish, she said, emphasizing its “sense of family, and the sense of so many people wanting to do good for the community and help each other.”
“Seeing all these people work together is really meaningful for me,” she said.
Grenier began by volunteering to deliver meals, even getting her children involved in the transport.
Tracy James, a four-year volunteer for the Thanksgiving meal with the Girl Scouts, joined the group processing the turkeys.
“The Brick and Point Pleasant Girl Scouts baked a bunch of cookies that we donated, and we do that every year,” she said. “I just love doing this!”
Said Father Santangelo, “We have time, we have abilities and we put them to use. We have an opportunity to share with [those in need] some of the joy of the Gospel, some of the blessings that God has given to us … The need isn’t going away, and we’ll continue to do what we can to address that need.”
Video taken by freelance photographer Joe Moore contributed to this story.