Lynbrook, East Rockaway help those in need at Thanksgiving


For the 11th straight year, Barbara and Doug Herrmann and a team of volunteers will be busy on Thanksgiving morning, preparing and cooking food for those in need.

Typically, the Herrmanns organize an in-person Thanksgiving Day meal at Bethany Congregational Church for community members in need of friendship and fellowship on the holiday. For the second year in a row, however, they will prepare and pack meals for delivery to residents in Lynbrook, East Rockaway, Oceanside, Rockville Centre and Franklin Square because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meals will also be available for pickup and takeout at the church, at 100 Main St., on Thanksgiving Day, which wasn’t an option last year.

“The most important part is just that we want people to know that we care and that they’re not alone,” Barbara said. “The whole point of the dinner is community and people gathering together and being able to sit people at different tables, but now we can’t do that because of the pandemic, so we’re going to do this instead. We’ve gotten a great response.”

She added that about a dozen volunteers will help prepare the meals and deliver them to homes, and more than 60 people have already requested meals for the holiday, which is an uptick from the 25 that they delivered last year. Because of the small space in the church, the volunteers will prepare the turkeys at their homes and bring them to Bethany, where Barbara and her family will prepare the sides and desserts for delivery from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Rev. Mark Lukens said he was pleased to be able to offer a free meal, though he hoped it could be in person next year.

“We’re a church, and this is part of what we do,” he said. “I’m grateful to Barbara and Doug for spearheading this event and to the volunteers who will also spend their holiday helping.”

The deliveries were made possible by food and cash donations from Bethany parishioners, Barbara said. The packages will include a traditional Thanksgiving dinner comprising turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, green beans an stuffing. There will also be pumpkin pie and cornbread for dessert, and students who attend the church’s Sunday school have prepared bags of cookies.

“It’s just amazing to me how many calls we’re getting,” Barbara said, “but it’s also sad because that just goes to show how many people are in need.”

The church first hosted a sit-down Thanksgiving event for the community in 2010, and has done so each year for those who need a hot meal.

Barbara said she anticipates this Thanksgiving to be similar to others in many respects. She plans to wake up early and begin preparing the to-go meals with her family and volunteers, and then she will coordinate dropping them off at people’s homes.

Those in need of a meal can contact Bethany’s office at (516) 599-5768 before Nov. 24.

“It’s a great feeling because Bethany, for a small church, a small congregation, we really put a lot of effort into helping others,” Barbara said, “and this is just one of many events that we’re able to offer, and it’s nice to know that people know that others care about them and that they’re willing to take their own time away from maybe their family or maybe just relaxing at home and they’re willing to volunteer and provide a real good meal.”

Lynbrook has also gotten into the spirit of giving in preparation for the holiday. The Lynbrook Community Chest recently made a sizable food donation to the Our Lady Of Peace Parish Social Ministry Food Pantry to provide meals for Thanksgiving, Lynbrook Village Trustee Laura Ryder said. Local Girl Scouts and students in the Lynbrook Student Government Association also helped organize food collections.

“At this time, the Lynbrook Cares Committee is running a food drive for the OLP food pantry to help carry it through Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “We have dropped off two car loads within the last week and will be dropping more off this week and delivering food to those who have reached out.”