Community rallies around those in need

Rome Rescue Mission to deliver in excess of 1,000 turkeys courtesy of outpouring of support

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Rome Rescue Mission was in need of 1,000 turkeys for the upcoming holidays, so Romans and local business owners David Rizio and Joseph Calandra decided to start a local effort to help out those in need on Thanksgiving.

Likewise, Kris-Tech Wire also delivered — in a big way — donating 500 turkeys to the Rescue Mission to help meet a growing demand in the community, due in part to economic hardships from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Rizio and Calandra, owners of Rizio and Calandra Plumbing/Excavating, started their “Turkey Donation Challenge” via Facebook, initially challenging 10 small businesses to match their donation of turkeys for the Rome Rescue Mission at 413 E. Dominick St.

Other small businesses saw the post and wanted to help. Overnight the list kept growing. Rizio and Calandra were able to obtain about 350 turkey donations, far surpassing their original goal of 100.

“They did an awesome job. In a matter of a little over a week, they collected 350 turkeys and delivered them to the mission yesterday,” said Rome Rescue Mission Executive Director Matthew A. Miller on Friday. That, combined with the Kris-Tech donation, will help provide holiday meals for more than 1,000 local families, many of whom, Miller said, otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.

Miller said 700 turkeys in total were given away to those in need on Thursday, with more set to be delivered today.

“Today we’re loading up the RV as we speak with 500 or 600 more turkeys, and that will clean us out,” said Miller. “I guess we’re just overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who donated turkeys this year. We anticipated giving out 1,000, and we’ll be well over that.”

He said, “We’re so grateful for all the community response. Once again, Rome comes through more than ever this year, and it’s an amazing thing to be part of something so much larger than ourselves, with everyone pulling together and helping the community. We feel blessed to be able to provide these services to the community.”

Rome Rescue Mission is still in need of turkeys for Thanksgiving and once that holiday is over, efforts will shift to collecting hams for holiday and Christmas meals. And in order to provide all the traditional fixings that make a Thanksgiving dinner complete, the mission could also use donations of bread, butter, milk, juice, dinner rolls, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, instant mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, pies, cookies and other desserts, dessert mixes and other non-perishable food items. By any chance if items don’t get used for Thanksgiving, Miller said they will automatically go to the mission’s pantry. And he said those items would mostly likely be gone before Christmas.

“Next week we’re going to be delivering packed-to-go meals and delivering those to four different locations, like housing units, and anyone can go to get a meal there on Wednesday and Thursday,” Miller said. “And on Thanksgiving, we’ll be here at the mission from noon to 2 p.m. giving out meals here as well. We’re trying to minimize the number of people traveling by going to them, and giving them a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We’re already cooking. We’re starting off with 1,000 meals to be delivered next Wednesday and Thursday, and we anticipate that being a larger number. And we hope to have enough food to continue that.”

Last year Rome Rescue Mission gave away 620 Thanksgiving baskets that community members had signed up for, including all the items needed to make a holiday dinner. This year the mission didn’t conduct sign-ups because of COVID-19, which is why logistics changed, and the mission will now be handing out the turkeys and meals, said Miller.

“It’s just more manageable with all the restrictions, and we want to make sure the particularly vulnerable are taken care of,” he said.

At the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns in mid-March, the executive director said Rome Rescue Mission was making and delivering around 600 meals a day up until July. The mission’s RV became Miller’s office once the shelter was shut down.

“One thing that struck me during that time, was that food was secondary,” Miller recalled. “By the end of March, it was the interaction that people wanted — particularly, all the seniors. They were frightened, and the kids didn’t know what was going on either. They were suppose to be in school, but they weren’t, and no one was telling them anything.”

He remembered, “I can’t tell you how many seniors asked me to pray with them. One woman from Liberty Gardens asked me to pray with her because her mother was in the hospital, and she couldn’t see her, and she passed. My biggest concern was during this whole time, what happened to the homeless people who were coming to the mission? Now they have no place to go, so that really hurt them. The huge concern too is what happens to the children who are being sexually assaulted or abused? Now they need to be in the home where they’re being abused. Same goes for the women going through the same thing. It’s just not healthy by any circumstance to have that happen to them, but it’s something you don’t hear a lot about.”

That is why, Miller said he is especially grateful this year for the people and businesses, like Rizio and Calandra, who stepped up to make Thanksgiving a little brighter for their neighbors.

Rizio and Calandra said they are proud to be part of a community of small businesses that assist those less fortune when in need.

Among the businesses and their owners who donated:

Rizio and Calandra Plumbing/Excavation : Robert Rizio and Joseph Calandra

David Rizio Plumbing: David Rizio

LCS Janitorial Service & Supply, Inc.: Larry Posselt

CRC Raceway & Hobbies (also donating non-perishable goods): Frank Calandra

Patrick Heating, Inc.: Dave and Shaun Patrick

Paolozzi & RML Electric: Mike Paolozzi

The Franklin Hotel: The Vescio Family 

Mazzaferro Meats & Deli: The Mazzaferro Family

DeSalvo’s Catering & Restaurant: Richard DeSalvo

RBCI: Justin Gualtieri and Mike Houghton

Yager Construction, Inc.: Matthew Yager

Sid Harvey Industries: Mark Garbarino

Eggan Excavating & Equipment Co., Inc.: Doug Eggan

Redeeming Restoration: Sheri Osborne

Forts Power Washing: Jacen Fort

Auto Tech: Kelly Pope Sr. and Kelly Pope Jr.

EJA Services: Edward Alsheimer

Pat’s Tire Service, Inc.: Larry and Sue Casalenuovo

Back Nine Restaurant and Sports Bar: Justin Gualtieri

Custom Creations: Mike Cullings

Fazios Auto Sales: The Fazio Family

Larry Guiliano: Personal Donation 

Ber-Mor Gas Service: Bernie and John Mortise 

L.P. Trucking & Excavating, Inc.: Pete and Louise Schipano

Makeup By Avery: Avery Pabis

Jeff Pabis: Personal Donation 

Scotty’s Smokehouse BBQ: Scott Smith

Utica Plumbing Supply Rome Division: Tim Wickman

Flint Heating & Air Conditioning: Bob Flint

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