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State officials distribute Thanksgiving dinners to Syracuse seniors, residents in need

Tom Magnarelli
Commissioner Sam Roberts of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, helps hand out Thanksgiving dinners in Syracuse.

State officials helped deliver Thanksgiving dinners to residents in need in cities all across New York. In Syracuse, that happened at the Southwest Community Center, which targeted seniors and others who could use the meals the most.

Forty-five big boxes that can each feed a family of 12 were donated by Wegmans. They each include a turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, butternut squash, green bean casserole and cranberry relish.

Sharon Owens of the Southwest Community Center said they wanted to give the boxes to families they identified with having a tough time.

“Some people have had a sickness in their families, some people had a lost job, we also try to really target seniors,” Owens said.

Owens said some seniors, not mobile enough to come to the center, will have the boxes delivered to them personally.

“And many of our seniors are caring for their grandchildren and in situations where something like this really makes the giving of this even more important to them," Owens said. 'There’s nothing greater than having some home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner by your grandma. Especially as we look at poverty rates in this community and our efforts to help people who are struggling, this is just another amazing opportunity to get this done and help people. And you see smiling faces and grateful people and we want the giving feeling to be apparent year round.”

This is the second year the governor's office, Wegmans and the Southwest Community Center have partnered for a Thanksgiving meal distribution. Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter helped pass out the boxes.

“We have it right in coming down here to one of the most impoverished districts in the city of Syracuse and knowing that there are facilities like the Southwest Community Center to partner with the governor’s office, to partner with Wegmans, being able to bring some of that thanks and Thanksgiving back to folks of this community I think is very important,” Hunter said.

Commissioner Sam Roberts of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance also helped distribute the dinners. It has been almost a year and a half since he was appointed to the position. Roberts resigned as an assemblyman representing parts of Syracuse to take on the position that overseas refugee and homeless services as well as food benefits.

"Which is all federally funded and when it comes into the localities, that's a shot to the arm to the economy because it is all federal dollars that come in," Roberts said. "When I left the community, everyone thought I was gone but I'm just serving the community in a more larger, broader perspective."

Roberts' office also overseas home heating assistance. Roberts thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for being selected to be a part of his administration. Roberts' Assembly seat was won by Pamela Hunter last year in a special election. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.