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At fourth annual turkey giveaway, sheriff’s office distributes more than 450 Thanksgiving meals

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. and more than 15 members of the sheriff’s office helped brighten the holidays for families in need at the fourth annual turkey giveaway Tuesday in Yaphank.

More than 450 turkeys and trimmings were distributed, eclipsing last year’s total of 295.

“We’re able to not only provide a turkey, but some of those additional items that many members of our community enjoy on Thanksgiving Day,” Sheriff Toulon said.

The giveaway was held at the sheriff’s Transition and Reentry Team (S.T.A.R.T.) Resource center offices.

The sheriff’s office works with several organizations, such as Spin the Yard, Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island/VIBES, Long Island Cares, Harbor Church, Salvation Army and more, to make the giveaway possible.

“We’ve had many different services providers, many volunteers that have donated turkeys and that’s why we’re actually able to double the amount that we had last year,” Sheriff Toulon said.

Sheriff Toulon distributes a turkey meal Tuesday. (Credit: Melissa Azofeifa)

The packages given out Tuesday also included corn flakes, rice, corn, cranberry sauce, brownie mix, juice and some of the bags even contained Vitamin C supplements.

Baskets were distributed to preselected families who drove through the START resource center between 10 a.m. and noon to collect their Thanksgiving dinner.

According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, the cost of groceries has risen 13% and the demand on food banks has risen. The preselected families in need of holiday meal help were identified by the START Center and their partner nonprofit services agencies to guarantee that they could receive a free Thanksgiving meal without worry of a shortage and to combat demand, the press release said.

Whatever was left over was donated to various community groups, Sheriff Toulon said.

“I’m very proud of my staff who have really helped coordinate this and really make sure that we’re able to give back to our community,” he said.

Nearly twice as many Thanksgiving meals were donated this year. (Credit: Melissa Azofeifa)