Fighting hunger, one full plate at a time

May 2, 2013 Anna Spivak
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‘A Benefit to Fill Empty Plates,’ was held on Friday, April 19 as Reaching-Out Community Services celebrated its Fifth Annual Dinner Gala [For the Fight Against Hunger] at The Rex Manor.

Thomas Neve, founder of the 23-year-old organization and advocate against hunger, said this year’s gala was the most successful the group has seen since the start of Reaching-Out.

Complete with music, gift auctions and 50/50 raffles, all proceeds of the inspiring occasion benefit Reaching-Out Community Services and its programs for struggling low-income families, children, seniors, and individuals within the five boroughs of New York. These include a food pantry, as well as a range of services including food stamps and tutoring for children.

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With close to 300 in attendance according to Neve, the gala saw a great turnout.

I felt honored to have them [attendees] be part of our mission, Neve added. We just hope that we will be able to continue.

Finding a strong network of people to join in the effort is what Neve hopes for the future of the organization. We don’t want to turn away families when times get tough, he said. The goal is to attain people with an interest in order to build a better company.

There are so many people that have no idea what our neighbors are going through, he commented. Hunger has increased dramatically and we need to fight to prevent it.

Honored at the event were Sister Joan DiRienzo, principal of St. Bernadette School; Michael Napolitano, lieutenant governor of the Kiwanis Brooklyn Division; and Sister Shirlee Tremont, teacher and student council moderator at St. Bernadette School, who received awards for Outstanding Community Service.

Recipients of the Above and Beyond Community Service Award for their work during Hurricane Sandy included Inspector Peter DeBlasio, commanding officer of the 60th Precinct, FDNY Battalion 43, and Sanitation District 13.

Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Domenic Recchia received the Outstanding Public Service Award for their work during Hurricane Sandy while Mary Jo Tobin, founder of Love Wanted Adoptions, received the Outstanding Animal Altruistic Merit Award for helping save animals during Hurricane Sandy and Michael Taylor, of Gerritsen Beach Cares, received the Community Achievement Award.”

Lucy Mannarino, a volunteer for Reaching Out, received the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Shrine Church of St. Bernadette received the Good Samaritan Award.

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