Brightening the Day at Thanksgiving

Councilman Kenyetta Johnson (left) with volunteer Carolyn Mosely and community leader Earl Wilson prepare to safely place frozen turkeys in the cars of Southwest residents at the Penrose School in Eastwick.
Councilman Kenyetta Johnson (left) with volunteer Carolyn Mosely and community leader Earl Wilson prepare to safely place frozen turkeys in the cars of Southwest residents at the Penrose School in Eastwick.

Councilman Johnson sponsors turkeys for 500 families

It was a grey day, last Sunday, but City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and friends brought a little sunshine into the lives of many of his Southwest and South Philadelphia constituents.

At Penrose School off Buist Avenue and at Myers Recreation Center at 58th and Kingsessing, plus two locations in South Philly, the earnest legislator organized turkey deliveries to over 500 families this year.

Eastwick community leader Earl Wilson noted that “We’ll be celebrating small this year, keeping ourselves isolated and safe, but looking forward to some turkey, yams and sweet potato pie.  We’re thankful that we’ll have food on the table – when so many people may not!  And we are grateful that our family is healthy and not affected yet by Covid-19.”  

“It’s sad that we’ll be separated from family and friends this year,” said Carolyn Mosely, another steadfast community volunteer. “We will be looking ahead to a better Thanksgiving next year.” 

Rahmir Green was helping load the big turkey bags through car windows, rinsing his hands disinfectant every few minutes.  “I’ll be with six of our immediate family only in order to be safe this year.  We’ll have a zoom at some point with family in New Jersey and Connecticut,” he mentioned.  “Our Thanksgiving prayer will be for all those people we know who are out of work and short of food,” he offered. “Maybe these turkeys will make a difference for some of them.” 

“We’re grateful to be able to dig into some “mac and cheese” and turkey together with our two daughters who are still living with us at home,” said Tiphanie White, carefully garbed with a plastic shield in addition to her mask.  “We’re planning to have a zoom conversation to include another half dozen other family members during the day.”  As to being thankful, Mrs. Speaks cited good health and having steady jobs as wonderful blessings in these difficult times. 

“Giving is an important part of the name of this holiday,” reflected Eugena Speaks who was keeping track of coupons for the drive-through recipients.  “There are so many people facing food shortages this year, we have to pitch in where we can.”  Thanksgiving in the past meant visiting her grandmother down south. “Catching and plucking chickens for her to barbeque was part of our day then!” she recalled.

“Now we’ll be praying that the epidemic doesn’t affect the lives of others – particularly people we know and love.”     

Meanwhile, her husband, Danny, directed traffic through the Penrose School parking area so that recipients didn’t have to leave their cars.  “We believe in reaching out to others, both through our church mission work and directly,” stressed Speaks.  “Serving the community with the councilman is especially meaningful at Thanksgiving.”

Jamal, a Jamaican visitor was down from New York visiting family in South Philadelphia.  “I’m happy just being alive and working this year,” he confessed.  “Having a turkey to supplement our usual Caribbean fish and jerked chicken with cabbage will be a welcome change.” 

“At a time when many residents are finding it tough to make ends meet and are missing family and friends due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, helping families be able to maintain the tradition of the Thanksgiving dinner brings a little normalcy to a time when that’s in short supply,” reflected Councilman Johnson. 

“During the holiday season, it’s always great to show the people that I represent in the Second Councilmanic district that I love and appreciate them which is why this turkey giveaway is important every year,” Johnson said. “This annual Turkey giveaway comes in the middle of a global pandemic where the need for food for Philadelphians is greater than ever before in recent history. The turkeys my office is distributing this year are being given away to folks who otherwise might not have been able to enjoy a traditional holiday meal. I also want to thank all of the event sponsors for making this year’s event successful.” 

The sponsors of this year’s turkey giveaway are Independence Blue Cross, Strayer University, LPMG Companies and Greater Philadelphia Health Action.

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