Archdiocese distributes more than 200 Thanksgiving turkeys to families in need

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NEWARK, NJ — Facing unprecedented demand amid a slowing economy and a national turkey shortage, the Archdiocese of Newark’s Mercy House distributed 220 free turkeys and bags of side dishes to families in need during its fifth annual Thanksgiving giveaway in Newark on Nov. 22.

The Mercy House has always had a good turnout for its holiday tradition — but never to this extent. For the first time in its history, the Mercy House ran out of food to distribute, prompting logistics coordinator Steve Taylor to purchase more poultry from a local grocery store. While he was gone, those waiting in line were welcomed inside the building for cookies, and eventually everyone went home with a turkey for their Thanksgiving meal.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before — there was a lot of need this year,” Mercy House Director Cheryl A. Riley said. “It just shows why it’s so important that we do this event every year. We want to make sure everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. And we appreciate all our donors for making it possible.”

This year’s Thanksgiving giveaway was facilitated entirely through the generosity of the Mercy House’s donors, which included the Troopers United Foundation of the New Jersey State Police, the employees of the Archdiocese of Newark, and the Knights of Columbus in Westfield and Secaucus. Leah and Bobby Antonicello of Grid Real Estate also supplied 100 turkeys, while the Cheer Me Up Foundation provided 20 large baskets of poultry and sides. Even the extra turkeys that were purchased from the store were paid for using the financial contributions of supporters.

Photos Courtesy of Sean Quinn/Archdiocese of Newark