For the past 17 years, Woodmere Lanes Owner Nick Paxinos has been preparing and delivering Thanksgiving meals to St. Boniface Parish in Elmont and the First Baptist Church in Far Rockaway, but this year he’s also planning to serve those who are displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
Paxinos, a Lynbrook resident, began his Thanksgiving Tradition on his own so he could pay tribute to his mother, who passed away before his daughters, Kayla, 6, and Arianna, 10, were born. “I’m a private person so it was something I did on my own,” he said. “When my daughters were able to talk they asked me why I don’t ask more people to help and because of the nature of what we were doing, it was natural to get help from other people.”
Sharon Shohet of East Rockaway has been volunteering each year for the Thanksgiving Tradition for the past 10 years and though she is dealing with the loss of her home by Hurricane Sandy, she’s still going to deliver turkey dinners to those in need. “Everything I own is gone and though I’m living in my own nightmare, I’m not going to stop now,” she said. “It’s for someone who needs it.”
Last year, the Paxinos family and the countless volunteers were able to deliver 200 meals. This year, however, is different, according to Paxinos. “We’re doing what we normally do but because of the late start, we’re asking for donations for different avenues and are aiming for 100 meals,” he said. “We’re trying to also orchestrate feeding families who were displaced from the storm in the five boroughs and Long Island.”
For the past two years, Paxinos has also been given a storefront on Merrick Road in Lynbrook that serves as his preparation area so items can be sorted before being delivered. “We were getting overwhelmed in my garage,” he said. “This gives a place to a name and the idea is to have people come whenever they want and drop off donations.”
Frank Viteritti, who owns Import Commodity Group on East Merrick Road in Valley Stream, has known Paxinos for the past 25 years. After telling his landlord about Paxinos’ charitable efforts, he received the storefront free of charge. “All the different items for the dinner have to be sorted out, bagged and stored,” he said. “Though we also use Nick’s garage, this place is three times the size.”
Viteritti also helps Paxinos pick up the 200 turkeys the day before Thanksgiving and believes it’s a wonderful way to help those in need. “[Paxinos] is doing it from the heart 100 percent and it’s nice to give back,” he said. “It’s a sad thing but a good thing.”
Despite the setback from Hurricane Sandy, Paxinos remains hopeful about the amount of meals he and the volunteers will be able to deliver. “It’s troubling but we’ll feed whoever we can,” he said. “Whatever it is, it’ll be.”