ONEIDA — The Oneida Rotary and Church on the Rock will give turkeys, complete with all the fixings, to around 250 families in need in the greater Oneida area.
COVID-19 has reshaped the holidays this year and a cornerstone of the Oneida tradition — the annual Oneida Rotary Thanksgiving Luncheon — was canceled this year due to COVID-19. And for many, this could have meant no Thanksgiving meal at all.
“I’ve had so many families who plan on that meal as their only turkey meal for the holidays,” Karing Kitchen Coordinator Melissa King said.
This year was to be the Oneida Rotary’s 26th annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Kallet Civic Center, where 400 people showing up for dinner being the average from year to year.
“COVID is a challenge but I did not want to give up,” Oneida Rotary President Lillian White said. “While we couldn’t cook the meal, we can give the supplies.”
Church on the Rock normally holds an annual turkey giveaway to help feed local families in need. Just last year, 200 families were given a turkey in the greater Oneida area by the Church.
This year, 250 families registered with Church on the Rock for the turkey giveaway and Oneida Rotary supplied potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, creamed corn, sweet peas, rolls, and a pie for dessert.
The Oneida Rotary purchased these items with the help of two grants worth $1,000: one given to the Oneida Rotary through the Oneida Savings Bank and another through Walmart obtained via a partnership between the Oneida Improvement Committee and the Oneida Rotary. Potatoes were donated by Carlo Masi Sons and Daughters in Utica.
King is working with Church on the Rock Outreach Coordinator Stuart Hock to deliver around 47 meals to families who won’t be able to make it to the drive-thru giveaway.
In prior years, King would work with the Oneida Rotary to ensure meals from the annual Thanksgiving Luncheon could make it to seniors and residents of the Oneida Towers who couldn’t make it. This year, the number of seniors who can’t leave their home has only increased.
“It’s a huge increase, so many say they’re terrified,” King said. “They say they’re all by themselves, they have [respiratory conditions], or they don’t want to jeopardize their health or the health of their families.”
King encouraged those in the community to help in whatever way they can. Besides donating or volunteering to local organizations like Oneida Rotary or Church on the Rock, King encouraged people to just reach out to their neighbors.
“Check in on your neighbors, even if it’s just leaving a note on the door,” King said. “Check to see if they’re OK and if they’re not, there are agencies in the area that can help. Sometimes, people fly under the radar because nobody is checking in.”