Turkey - it's what's for dinner.
An array of charitable organizations will be hosting free dinners in the days before Thanksgiving this week for needy residents in Hudson County. Homeless shelters, churches, and non-profit groups are doing their part to ensure a happy Thanksgiving for everyone.
For three years, Hoboken resident Andrew Rose has been giving thanks by sharing with others. Rose cooks turkeys at his home for Sister Norberta Hunnewinkel's Homeless Shelter on 300 Bloomfield St. in Hoboken. A former chef at restaurants down the Jersey Shore, Rose knows well how to prepare tasty food for large crowds.
"I do most of it myself," Rose said last week. "Sometimes friends and family help me out."
This year Rose, with the help of a local supermarket, will prepare a half-dozen turkeys, 40 pounds of garlic mashed potatoes, and equal quantities of stuffing, sweet potatoes and an assortment of vegetables for the dinner to be held at the shelter this Wednesday (not Thursday) at 6 p.m. Hunnewinkel is anticipating more than 300 guests.
"We get donations from supermarkets and from people like Rose," Hunnewinkel said. "Our goal is for everyone to be happy."
Rose, a salesperson for a firm in New York City, helps the shelter, several blocks from his house, because it's the right thing to do, he said.
"This is my big charitable event for the year. I guess this is the only way I'll get into heaven," Rose said jokingly. "Every year I get better and better at this."
The Hoboken Shelter also receives help from the Hoboken Clergy Coalition and the New Jersey Community Food Bank, according to Hunnewinkel. Community Food Bank spokeswoman Meara Nigro provides Hunnewinkel and 71 other charitable groups in Hudson County with food year-round.
The Salvation Army is another group that helps out the hungry in the community by hosting dinners at both Jersey City and Union City. Both dinners will be held this year on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
Sebastian Leonardi, a captain at the Salvation Army office on 248 Erie St. in Jersey City, said more than 800 people attend both dinners and 30 to 40 people volunteer their time. Local supermarkets donate food products for the event, he said, and they prepare large buffets for the people.
"People come out and volunteer," Leonardi said. "We always get our biggest crowd for Thanksgiving."
The Union City office is located on 515 43rd St.
The Medical and Social Services for the Homeless at 114 Clifton Place in Jersey City is another location where people can come and eat food for Thanksgiving. The dinner will be held Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Last year, approximately 100 people showed up to eat. Director Henrietta Johnson said her group has been involved in Thanksgiving dinners for a decade and during that time they have been able to make a difference in the community.
"Everyone knows we're here," Johnson said. "People come and enjoy a warm meal."
In addition to turkey, this year's menu will include spare ribs, stuffing, salads, sodas, and desserts. Everything is prepared by the Jersey City Medical Center on Baldwin Avenue, which donates the food, Johnson said.
At the First Reformed Church on 53 Center Ave. in Secaucus, Joan Passante and other volunteers are working hard preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day at 3 p.m. Passante expects to have salads, potatoes, stuffing, and desserts for approximately 50 to 60 people.
"Many families come and enjoy their meals," Passante said last week.
In Jersey City, Eleni's Restaurant on 626 Newark Ave. will be offering free meals on Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., sponsored by Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski and Jersey City Incinerator Authority Chairman Jimmy King. Rosella Caruso, a spokeswoman for King, said more than a hundred people come and eat at the restaurant for Thanksgiving, and right now they are seeking volunteers to help out.
Other charitable organizations that will help the community during Thanksgiving include the Parish of the Resurrection on 370 Montgomery St. in Jersey City, St. Vincent Church in Bayonne, and St. John's Shelter on 111 37th St. in Union City.
In Union City, the Brian Stack Civic Association, as part of a 16-year tradition, is donating 5,000 turkeys to needy families.
To confirm the time and date of a dinner, or to find out if volunteers are needed, call:
Medical and Social Services for the Homeless in Jersey City: 434-1316
Salvation Army in Jersey City: 653-3071
Salvation Army in Union City: 867-4093
St. John's Shelter in Union City: 348-8150
First Reformed Church in Secaucus: 867-9178
The Brian Stack Civic Association in Union City: 863-8583
Catholic Community Services in Union City: 866-3208
Hoboken Homeless Shelter: 656-5069
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Hillside: (908) 355-3663
St. Vincent Church in Bayonne: 858-6119
Parish of the Resurrection in Jersey City: 434-8500
Eleni's Restaurant in Jersey City: 792-0300