Takikya Latimore was bracing for a lean Thanksgiving.
The Morristown mother of three lost plenty of frozen food when Hurricane Sandy knocked out her electricity for five days.
“I had to re-buy a lot of things. It cut my Thanksgiving budget short,” Takikya said on Monday.
Yet she was beaming. Later this week she will feed a dozen people with turkey and all the trimmings, thanks to a Fairfield company that delivered 100 holiday meals to the Morristown Neighborhood House.
“We’re glad to do it,” said Jim Paull, president of CoreMedia Systems, an advertising software company. “Just seeing everyone smile when they pick everything up is why we’re here. It’s a labor of love.”
Please click icon for captions.
This is the second Thanksgiving that CoreMedia has helped clients of the Neighborhood House, a nonprofit serving immigrants and the working poor. Last week, CoreMedia’s 30 employees helped load bags with mixes for turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and brownies; apple juice; and cans of cranberry sauce, yams and green beans.
On Monday, some of those employees accompanied a van to the Nabe’s front door to unload all those bags, along with 100 turkeys and turkey breasts. Throughout the afternoon, they gave the food to needy area residents who had signed up at the Nabe on a first-come, first-served basis.
“After Hurricane Sandy, a lot of people were left without food. This is a great help,” said Jennifer Calderon, volunteer outreach coordinator for the Neighborhood House.
Even without the hurricane, this was a tough year for many local families, said Steve Neblett, assistant director of the Nabe.
“One of the kids here was crying. He said, ‘We might not have a Thanksgiving, and we might not have Christmas. My mom lost her job,'” Steve recounted.
It conjured memories from his own boyhood in Newark, and a tree-less Christmas Eve. His single mother came through at the last minute. “My mom put us on the sled and took us up the street to get a tree.”
Steve told the crying boy not to worry. “Mr. Neblett is going to make sure your name is on the list. You will have Thanksgiving. And you’ll have Christmas, too.”
Monday’s food delivery cheered the donors as much as the recipients.
“It’s nice on Thanksgiving week to do something, to give something back,” said Ryan Andrikanich, a CoreMedia systems coordinator.
Takikya Latimore had one word for CoreMedia: “Awesome.” She was thankful, too, for the Nabe, where her kids, ages 11, 9 and 3, attend various programs. “They’re always doing something good,” said Takikya, who is studying to be a medical technician.
Stroke victim Ronald Dumas, 69, rolled over to the Nabe in his motorized wheelchair from the seniors center on Early Street. His holiday benefactors from CoreMedia and the Nabe were “God-sent,” he said. Ronald’s grandchildren will help him eat the Thanksgiving feast, which his sister will prepare.
“I would ask my wife,” he said with a wide grin, “but she divorced me 40 years ago!”