Fort Hamilton

Bay Ridge civic groups join forces to help feed the hungry on Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the Rotary Club of Verrazano and the Salaam Club of New York pose with soldiers and their families at the Fort Hamilton Army Base. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta
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The Rotary Club of Verrazano and the Salaam Club of New York joined forces to help supply turkeys to Reaching-Out Community Services and distributed 250 turkeys on Monday to those in need.

The joint goodwill venture was the first between the two Bay Ridge civic groups, although community leader Ralph Succar, who helped spearhead the drive, is a member of both the Rotary Club and the Salaam Club.

And that’s not all. After distributing the 250 turkeys with all the trimmings at 77th Street and New Utrecht Avenue, Succar took an additional 60 turkeys to the families of soldiers at the Fort Hamilton Army Base. In addition to that, the Rotary Club also donated 250 more turkeys to various charitable organizations in the community.

Reaching-Out is a Bensonhurst-based charity that has fed thousands of hungry families in Southwest Brooklyn, according to Thomas Neve, the founder and executive director of the organization.

The group, which operates a food pantry out of a storefront at 7708 New Utrecht Ave., distributes hundreds of free turkeys at its Operation Gobbler Giving event each year. The distribution traditionally takes place on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and City Harvest provides all the trimmings to go along with the turkey.

The Rotary Club of Verrazano is one of more than 30,000 rotary clubs in 160 countries worldwide. They work to help feed the hungry, procure open-heart surgeries for children overseas and support a variety of local projects.

Succar explained the Rotary Club’s motto is “Service Above Self.”

“That means it’s all about the service that we provide for others,” Succar said. “It’s not about us.”

Succar, along with community leaders Carl Campagna and Joe Elhilow, explained that the Verrazano Rotary Club has made it a tradition to get together and distribute turkeys every year to the members of the armed forces. “This year, the Salaam Club decided to contribute and join the Verrazano Rotary in that endeavor,” he said.

“And we are so thankful and grateful to our armed forces especially at Thanksgiving.”

“We know we are going to be home with our families for Thanksgiving,” Elhilow added. “We thank them for giving up their holidays and their whole year to let us be with the people who we love and to keep us safe. And again we thank them and appreciate everything they’ve done.”

Elhilow and John Abi-Habib were there representing the Salaam Club along with Succar.

The Salaam Club was founded 71 years ago by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants in Bay Ridge. It was formed in 1945 as a fraternity of men of Middle Eastern descent. In 1994, the Salaam Club Community Fund was established to benefit local organizations such as the Guild for Exceptional Children in Bay Ridge.

In 2008, the Salaam Club Foundation was formed. Along with conducting turkey drives, the foundation donates to the Salvation Army and helps children in need and senior citizens. The group also raises funds St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and for St. Nicholas Home, an interdenominational residence for elderly individuals on Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge.


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