Groups share Thanksgiving bounty

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Rosa Brodie helps organize bags of food and turkeys for community members Tuesday at the Opportunities Industrialization Center on East Virginia Street


Staff Writer

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Nearly 300 local residents were given a couple of turkeys, canned food and other side items Tuesday as part of the Rocky Mount Branch of the NAACP’s annual Thanksgiving giveway.

The event was co-sponsored by the Opportunities Industrialization Center and the Pan-Hellenic Council, which is a collaborative organization of nine historically black, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities.

Andre Knight, president of the local branch of the NAACP, said giving away the turkeys and other food items is what Thanksgiving is all about.

“We see this as a great need because some people don’t have the means, and it’s important for us to be a resource to help people during this time,” Knight said. “We see the joy and how people are thankful to have someone think about them at this time. We’re just happy to serve them.”

Damian Tucker, president of the local chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, said one of the things that the fraternity was founded on is providing services to the community. 

“There are a lot of people that unfortunately can’t afford to get a turkey, and it feels good to be involved in something that will benefit people in the community,” Tucker said. “I enjoyed having a conversation with a couple of the older ladies on their plans to cook their turkeys. I know cooking turkeys isn’t an easy thing and it takes some talent. For a lot of these ladies, the way they cook these turkeys has been passed down in their families. But for them to be able to feed their families is truly a blessing.”

Leonard Tillery said the turkeys and the rest of the food will provide some men in transition a good Thanksgiving meal. Tillery is the executive director of the local Hand Up Ministries, which is a faith-based prison after-care program based in Virginia for men and women who have just been released from prison.

Hands Up Ministries provides housing, complete with utilities, transportation, meals, clothing, hygiene products and a structured environment, to help men and women re-adjust to society. Tillery said he has two recovery homes for local men.

“We have about 10 men living in the recovery houses and we plan to cook these turkeys for the residents,” he said. “This really shows how much OIC, NAACP and these fraternities care for the people in the community.”

Reuben Blackwell, president and CEO of OIC and also president of the Rocky Mount chapter of Omega Psi Phi, said the giveaway also serves to refute what he believes is a misperception in the area.

“We do want our community to understand that black professionals care about our community as well,” Blackwell said. “We work together regardless of our different perspectives. We work together to build and uplift our communities.”

Knight said the New Jersey-based nonprofit Kefalas Pinto Foundation again donated money to help purchase the turkeys and other food. The Kefalas Pinto Foundation was started by Dr. Peter Pinto in memory of his wife, Olga Doris Pinto, with a mission to help people in need who are going through difficult times.

Knight said the foundation was instrumental in providing $20,000 for families impacted by the killings of about a dozen women by a man known as the Seven Bridges Road Killer in 2008.