Ten years of Thanksgiving at Calvary Mission

Volunteers at Calvary Mission after serving food to more that 800 Queens residents. (L-R) Ravi Seopersad, Nina Rampersaude, Amanda Hardyal, Farida Manoharlall,Tony Singh, and Cecil Semple.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Calvary Mission food pantry in Jamaica, Queens will provide members of the community with all the trimmings for a turkey dinner during its 10th annual of Thanksgiving sustenance program.

Guyanese-American Tony Singh, manager of the pantry expects more than 800 culturally diverse people to join the food line on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the church, located at 102-6 89th Avenue. The food will be handed out from 9 am to 1 pm, according to Mr. Singh.

“We help low-income families to subsidize their meal by handing out bread, milk, canned foods, chicken, vegetables, bottled water, and other items,” said Mr. Singh.

“I call this program food for the working poor, because even though many people are employed, they still can’t make ends meet. We are here to provide families who come week after week for a balanced meal.”

Mr. Singh, who came to the U.S. in 1982, and worked as a “floor person” at a Garment District factory before owning “Four Season’s Fashion,” brings a passionate drive to this personal cause.

“I always say you cannot understand someone if you haven’t experienced what they lived, and as a child growing up in poverty in Guyana, I understand what they are going through,” said Singh.

“I look forward to being here every Saturday serving the community, it’s a blessing,” said the humanitarian who noted that by the end of the year, the pantry would have handed out approximately 3 million pounds of food.

In addition to food donation from the Food Bank of New York, the mission accepts financial donations. This holiday season; for everyone that donates $20 will receive an umbrella emblazoned with the Calvary Mission logo. These funds will go towards church programs.

As part of his personal quest to get people off the food line, the church’s new initiative will teach skills (computer skills) and help prepare theirs resume.

Singh also donates his time and finances to a food and clothing drive to help the less fortunate back home in Guyana. This year, two missionaries will accompany the philanthropist to Guyana to hand out Thanksgiving dinners at Seventh Day Adventist Churches in rural areas on the East Coast of Demerara.

Volunteer Cecil Semple, a retired personal manager with Guyana Airways, immediately decided to donate his time after he found the pantry listed on a blog and realized it was serving the Guyanese community.

“I enjoy volunteering, and serving those in need of help,” said Semple, and added that over the last six months he has showed up religiously to hand out food items as well as share love to those in need, a quality that is appreciated.

“I have no intentions of working again, so I will use the free time I have to continue my service to the community,”

Amanda Hardyall was fortunate to find the pantry after she was laid off from her job in 2003.

“I joined the food line after I lost my job and when they needed volunteers, I decided give back to the church that helped me when I was in need.”

Hardyall, who operates the forklift, looks forward to greeting families with a food package this Thanksgiving, and all year round.

“It’s a rescue, it gives faith to go on living, and to provide for their children,” noted the Guyanese woman. “We not only give milk, rice and vegetable, we also give spiritual food. We are truly blessed at Calvary Mission to be able to give people what they are looking for, faith.”

The pantry is open to all and are required to sign their name before receiving a hamper. Call (646) 258–4212, to make a donation.

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