Story By Lon Tytell
The Knights of Columbus Warwick Valley Council 4952 sponsored their annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner on Thurs., Nov. 24. Co-chair Mike Aiello said, “We want members of the Warwick community who do not have anybody or family to enjoy Thanksgiving. The Knights and volunteers have lots of fun participating.”
Aiello has much to be thankful for this year, having undergone quadruple bypass surgery in July. He continues to give back to the community that supported him through his illness.
Co-chairs Aiello and Matt Rough arrived at the Knights Hall in Florida at 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to begin preparing the turkeys. Lloyd Van Duzer, another co-chair of the event, organized the frying of turkeys, which saves time. This year, the volunteers used four fryer pots to cook over 30 turkeys. The turkeys are fried using gluten free canola oil for 45 minutes to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, allowing the juices to seep.
At 7:30 a.m., Knight Walter Thomasberger and the kitchen crew began the preparation of the ham and stuffing and began slicing the turkeys. Other Knights, Columbiettes, family members, young adults from St. Stephens Parish and community volunteers showed up to offer their help.
Barbara Korycki, the financial secretary for the Warwick Valley Columbiettes, said, “It is important that the Columbiettes assist the Knights with this community dinner to show that the two organizations work together, have a sense of caring and awareness to the community. This event gives everyone involved a great feeling of helping, caring and sharing. No one should be alone on Thanksgiving. It gives everyone a feeling of being welcomed. It is a nice way of saying thanks to our community.”
By noon, volunteers were ready to start serving the Thanksgiving meal which included: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes stuffing and green beans. Desserts were donated by Noble Pies and Price Chopper and were complimented by baked goods prepared by family members and Columbiettes.
Another co-chair of the community dinner, Deputy Grand Knight, Lloyd Van Duzer, organized the frying of turkeys, a service offered to members of the community for a suggested donation of $10. For diners enjoying the complete Thanksgiving dinner, donations were accepted. All monies collected will go to the Florida and Warwick food pantries.
Grand Knight Al Castagna summed up the importance of Thanksgiving saying, “Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that is special to Americans. This is a holiday that lets us celebrate with family, loved ones and friends. We live in a great and caring nation.”
The Warwick Valley Knights of Columbus, started in 1960, boasts about 250 members who participate in many projects throughout the year. Over the past 15 years, they have collected over 1,500 toys locally for distribution to needy children in the Warwick area at Christmas, both directly during their Breakfast with Santa Program and through local service organizations such as the Alamo and the Warwick Lions Club. This year, new and unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the various locations in the Town of Warwick by Mon., Dec. 5. For more information call Al Sanza at 258-9724.
The Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids Program has benefited needy kids at the Alamo and the Clothing Closet in the Town of Warwick. The Knights served funnel cakes for the Autism Move-a-Thon of Orange County and for disabled people at Access Support for Living. Families who have been affected by fires and water damage have also been helped by the Knights, who will be presenting a check with matching funds from the Knight State Council to St. Stephen’s School for playground equipment.