Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes Usher in Holiday Season with Turkey Giveaway
Thanksgiving came early for some 100 students from M.S. 72 (Catherine and Count Basie Middle School), P.S. 223 (Lyndon Johnson), and August Martin High School. New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson and his teammate, third baseman Jose Reyes, joined them this week at M.S. 72 in Jamaica, Queens, to hand out turkeys for their holiday meal. The giveaway was part of The Mets’ larger Metsgiving and Granderson’s Grand Giving campaigns, which have the shared goal of combatting hunger in New York City.
The day began at Citi Field, where Granderson and Reyes met up with FreshDirect, who provided the turkeys in partnership with the Food Bank for New York City. Uber provided the transportation to M.S. 72, and, upon their arrival at the school, it was all hands on deck—including Granderson and Reyes—to unload the frozen cargo.
There was an excited buzz in the room as students and their families entered to meet the two Mets favorites. One by one, families had a chance to greet Granderson and Reyes, who handed out vouchers that can be redeemed for Mets tickets to select games in April 2017, along with turkeys. Said one parent, Sandra Martinez, whose sixth grade son had brought home the turkey voucher last week, “I’m thankful for the turkey and the tickets. For Ramses this is so meaningful, but he’s in class so he didn’t get to meet the players. They are a great example to him.”
Such events are a labor of love for Granderson, who was recently honored with the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable efforts. Speaking at the event, Granderson said, “For me, it’s just something I’ve always done — my mom and dad, I learned it from them. That’s just how I grew up. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of the year, and I know that there’s some people who don’t know how exactly they’re going to be able to provide for their family and friends. With the Food Bank of NY and the Metsgiving and Grand Giving that we’re doing over the course of this holiday season, we’re able to provide some of those meals for them.” Teammate Reyes concurred: “I feel so blessed. It’s so great to see people so happy.”
The Child Center of NY’s CEO, Traci Donnelly, was on hand for this very special event, as was The Child Center’s senior vice president of External Affairs and Community Engagement, Deepmalya Ghosh, LCSW, and Rob Closs, who serves as The Child Center’s Program Director of Compass at P.S. 56. “We are deeply grateful for the continuing support of our longtime partner, The New York Mets,” said Ghosh. “We recognize that this opportunity comes due to our working so intimately with M.S. 72 as the lead community-based partner in delivering a model Beacon Community School.”
Ghosh further explained that key players in making this Metsgiving event happen included The Child Center’s Christine Friday and Michelle Reed, as well as various Youth Development staff who worked diligently with M.S. 72’s parent coordinator, Ms. Awuku, “who showed the commitment of our Beacon Community School toward bringing joy and goodwill to the entire school day,” according to Ghosh. “The Mets’ Donovan Mitchell, Julianna Sabra, and Yessenia Covarrubias were active in running the event, as was Danielle Parillo, also from the Mets, who spent lots of time going over the logistics of the day…making sure everything was planned to go as smoothly as it could have.”
Special thanks also goes to New York State Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, who spent the day, and of course, MS 72 principal Omotayo Cineus, “who graciously hosted her school and who is going to keep the school open on THANKSGIVING DAY to feed the community!” said Ghosh. For her part, Cineus said she was thrilled to be a part of this early Thanksgiving celebration. “We were so excited to support Mr. Granderson’s charitable giving,” she said. “We extend heartfelt gratitude to the Mets for providing this opportunity for the families and young people of South Jamaica.”