Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Thanksgiving food drive benefits veterans in Queens


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Eric Ulrich's office

Elected officials and veteran organizations are giving thanks this Thanksgiving by serving those who have served the country.

In Queens, Councilman Eric Ulrich, chair of the veterans committee, opened his doors to collect goods for a food drive for veterans that has been taking place citywide since Nov. 10.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #32, located in Whitestone, joined the councilman in helping those less fortunate who’ve served the country. They have donated hundreds of dollars’ worth of food to the drive and have done their own collection for veteran food pantries and kitchens.

“If you served our country in any shape or form and need help we want to do so,” said Paul Narson, president of the chapter.

All of the food that has been collected by the chapter will be given to Ulrich to then distribute as part of the food drive. Most of the food collected by the organization has been donated from its 252 members in Queens, said Narson.

Moreover, the chapter has also donated 16 turkeys to food pantries around Middle Village and Glendale.

It’s the least they can do for those brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect America’s freedom, noted Narson, who has been a member of the chapter for 25 years.

“We try to do all sorts of things for veterans,” he said. “We help out whenever we can.”

Close to 30 percent of New York City’s veterans and their families rely on emergency food to get by, according to the New York City Food Bank.

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Six ways to give back to Queens for Thanksgiving


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ShelterMealHC1311_X_300_C_Y

BY PAULINA TAM

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Is it a roof over your head or daily hot meals? Use the Nov. 27 festivities to lend a helping hand by giving back to the community. Listed below are volunteer opportunities where you can participate.

1. The Daily News and City Harvest are collaborating this holiday season from Oct. 21 to Jan. 16 to collect nonperishable food and keep the local food pantries’ cupboards filled in their “Daily News Food Drive.” Their goal for this season is to raise 1 million pounds of food. Queens drop-off locations include the Steinway Goodwill Store at 32-36 Steinway St. and the Van Dam Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. Visit www.cityharvest.org/dailynews to find out more Queens locations.

2. Although volunteer opportunities by Food Bank NYC and New York Cares for the holiday season fill up fast, there are always vacant but competitive positions still up for grabs. Prepare dinner at a local pantry or go on food deliveries throughout Queens. Events are updated daily. Register on www.foodbanknyc.org or www.newyorkcares.org now to secure your holiday volunteer placement. Please note New York Cares does require new registrants to attend a one-hour orientation.

3. The New York City Department of Education annually partners up with Citymeals-on-Wheels for their handmade greeting cards. Schoolchildren are invited to break out their crayons and markers and craft a greeting card that will be handed out alongside a free meal for those homebound during the holiday season. In 2012 alone, 57,187 handmade holiday cards designed by children in private and public schools were distributed. Visit www.citymeals.org/food-for-thought/handmade-greeting-cards to learn more.

4. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens have various ongoing food pantries happening in churches in Queens. Some of the churches include Our Lady of the Angelus at Rego Park and St. Rose of Lima at Far Rockaway. Pantry times and dates vary. Visit www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/parish-community-services to contact a church near to you to assist with any food distribution. Last year, over one million meals were handed out to over 115,000 people throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

5. Have a gently used coat that you no longer need that is just sitting in your closet? The 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive is kicking off on Nov. 17. Call your local Queens Library branch, NYPD and FDNY precincts to see if they are participating in the drive, and drop off a coat to help those in need keep warm this holiday season.

6. Nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia of Rego Park will be handing out food to the hungry on Thanksgiving during their regular hours. Dining hours will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and the food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Packages of free food will be made available to guests after they are done with their hot meal during dinner service. Masbia is located at 98-08 Queens Blvd.

Visit www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-queens or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org for a full listing of food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks active during Thanksgiving in Queens where you can volunteer and donate nonperishable food items. Pantry and kitchen times and dates vary. Call individual locations to find out appropriate times to line up for first-come, first-served food distribution.

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Queens Center to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY MICHAEL SHAIN

No time for a second piece of pie at Thanksgiving this year.

For the first time, Queens Center is going to open at 6 p.m. the night of Thanksgiving, following a trend to start Black Friday earlier every year.

The move is prompted by the announcement this week that JCPenney and Macy’s are joining stores like Kmart and Walmart in being open on Thanksgiving night — getting a six-hour jump on the competition to start their first, big holiday sales.

“We always opened at midnight” for those stores that wanted to get the bargain rush going in the first hours of Black Friday, said John Scaturro, head of marketing for the Elmhurst mall. “But with stores like Sears opening early, now the big players are following suit.”

And since the two biggest stores in the mall are opening early, the owner of the mall, Macerich Co., has offered the chance to all the stores in the mall to open at 6 p.m. too.

“We project that 70 to 80 percent of our stores will elect to open Thanksgiving night,” Scaturro said. “Nobody is going to want to be closed in those first few hours.”

In the retail trade, the trend is being called “Black Friday creep,” a process that began more than a decade ago when big-box stores tested the idea of boosting sales by offering extraordinary bargains to die-hard shoppers willing to come to the stores at midnight.

Black Friday is the term used by retailers for the day after Thanksgiving — when people are off from work and the holiday shopping season officially began (and merchants could count on ending the day in the black).

But what started out as an experiment has taken off. Retailers — who have a bunch of bad years since economic crisis of 2007-8 — discovered shoppers have had enough football and family by nightfall on Thanksgiving and are itching to get out of the house.

“People always seem to be in very good spirits when they shop on those days. The truth is that, on Black Friday, we notice a lot of folks shopping for themselves — not for Christmas especially,” Scaturro said.

“Fall and winter clothes are the big items,” he said. “Shoe stores do very well on those days — and shoes are not something people buy for holiday shopping.”

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Middle Village scout troop needs members


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Charles Krzewski

The St. Margaret’s Boy Scout Troop 119 of Middle Village was once a bustling group filled with dozens of youngsters eager to learn about the outdoors.

But membership in the nearly 70-year-old troop has declined after years of competing for attention with computers, video games and now, mobile devices.

About two decades ago there were more than 35 members, but now with just 14 scouts, the group is seeking new members to teach the importance of nature and charity.

“Outdoor skills are very important,” said Charles Krzewski, the troop committee chair. “If they don’t learn this stuff they’re never going to have an appreciation for the outdoors. And you don’t want people going out to wreck it.”

The boy scout troop teaches boys from ages 10 to 18 how to start fires and build camps. They go on hiking and camping trips upstate and in New Jersey, Staten Island and Pennsylvania.

The troop also teaches the boys sports such as basketball, dodgeball, skiing, fishing, rafting, canoeing and rock climbing, among others.

But, in addition to the fun, the scouting group focuses on charity. They paint over graffiti and do community clean-up. Recently, the scouts also collected pies, snacks, canned food and turkeys, and donated them to local disadvantaged families for Thanksgiving.

Following the holidays, the scouts will collect food to donate to St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village, which will give it to people in need.

“Today’s kids are all concerned about self,” Krzewski said. “We want to have a good time, but we stress ‘you must give back.’ It lets them know that there is more out there than just themselves.”

Krzewski asks parents interested in signing their children up for the Scout Troop 119 to contact him at 718-894-4099.

 

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MTA service for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

From Wednesday, November 27, through Sunday, December 1 the MTA will operate on special schedules because of Thanksgiving weekend travel demands, according to the transit agency.

New York City Subways and Buses

New York City subways and buses will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day. The closest subway stations to the start of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are the 1 at 79th Street and the C at 81st Street. There will be additional service on the 42nd Street Shuttle as well as increased early morning service on the 1 line. A number of bus routes will be impacted by the parade, and details will be provided at www.mta.info under “Service Status.” On Friday, November 29, service will operate on a weekday schedule with some exceptions listed at mta.info.

Long Island Rail Road

The Long Island Rail Road will provide extra trains on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, November 27, with extra afternoon eastbound trains to handle the expected getaway day rush home. On Thanksgiving Day, there are extra trains to get riders to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and extra trains them from the event. On Friday, November 29, there will be a regular weekday schedule with off-peak fares. There will be extra trains on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1.

For more information, please click here.

Metro-North Railroad

Off-peak fares will be valid throughout the entire four-day period, and train schedules are adjusted to better serve more customers. On Wednesday, November 27, Metro-North will operate 20 extra afternoon trains departing Grand Central between noon and 4:10 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Day, Metro-North will provide additional inbound morning service for customers going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There is also expanded outbound service starting in the late morning and continuing until mid-afternoon for customers traveling to suburban destinations. There is expanded evening service for customers returning to New York City.

On the day after Thanksgiving, Metro-North will run fewer morning rush hour trains but more midday trains. Regular Saturday and Sunday schedules are in effect with extra trains on November 30 and December 1.

For more information, please click here.

Staten Island Railway

On  Wednesday, November 27 there will be extra trains added earlier in the afternoon beginning at 2:31 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, SIR will operate a Saturday schedule, while on Friday, trains will run on a regular weekday schedule.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

Routine maintenance and temporary construction work at all MTA Bridges and Tunnels crossings will be suspended beginning noon on Wednesday, November 27, through early Monday morning, December 2.

For more information, please click here.

 

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Middle Village man seeks home to donate his ducks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One man wants to donate his birds, but won’t let them be sitting ducks for Thanksgiving.

Middle Village native Frank Garet, who saved three ducks from possibly being the centerpiece of a dinner table last year, is now looking for a permanent home for the birds.

He believes the ducks deserve to return to nature, so he is considering a wildlife sanctuary upstate, but Garet is also talking with possible pet owners.

“I really hate to give them up, but they need a natural environment,” Garet said. “They are like my boys, but I think they deserve a beautiful pond.”

Since he found them, the birds have been in a pen at the Maspeth car dealership that Garet co-owns, Garet Motors on Flushing Avenue.

Garet said a woman had bought the ducks along with some chickens from a Flushing poultry market last year. But, when the box holding the birds broke and the animals started running around freely the woman collected the chickens, and left the ducks in the street.

Garet decided to rescue the young ducks because of a lesson his grandfather, who owned a hot dog truck, taught him early on.

His grandfather used to tell him to feed hungry birds that would gather near the vending truck. When he did, dozens of customers would suddenly appear to buy hot dogs.

“‘If the birds don’t eat, you don’t eat,’” Garet recalled his grandfather saying. “I fed the birds and cars never stopped coming.”
Since then, Garet has had a soft spot for the birds. He feeds corn and berries to his three feathered friends — Huey, Dewey and Louie — every day. But after a year, he said they have become too big.

Garet wants to find a home for them and is listening to anyone interested. However, he won’t donate them to someone until after Thanksgiving, “so they don’t kill them or sell them” and will take care of them “until the end of their natural lives,” Garet said.

“They are tame and friendly. They are healthy ducks and they deserve a good home,” he said.

Anyone interested in taking care of the ducks is encouraged to call Frank Garet at 718-371-1261.

 

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Donations help thousands have a happy Thanksgiving


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Thanksgiving had a new meaning this year for thousands of Sandy victims throughout New York, who received Thanksgiving dinner donations at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Boxes filled with cranberry sauce, vegetables, stuffing, gravy and other Thanksgiving dishes, along with thousands of turkeys, were delivered to New Yorkers affected by the storm.

On Wednesday, November 21, the day before Thanksgiving, the Korean Senior Center in Flushing was one of the many sites across New York that received the generous donation.

Austin Shafran, vice president of public affairs for the Empire State Development, attended the lunch and helped prepare the meal.

Cuomo deployed agency commissioners and senior staff, such as Shafran, to help with the Thanksgiving donations, volunteer and serve at centers across the city.

“This Thanksgiving, we wanted to ensure that New Yorkers impacted by the storm can still celebrate the holiday with their loved ones,” said Cuomo.

At the Korean Senior Center, over 600 hungry people were served.

Statewide, roughly 4,000 dinner boxes and turkeys were distributed to different disaster-stricken areas, all donated by Costco, Delta, ShopRite and Walmart. They were packed and delivered by the National Guard, and brought to different centers in Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Westchester County and Long Island.

“The generous contributions . . . made [Thanksgiving] possible for families in the hardest hit communities in the state. I thank our corporate partners for their continuing assistance which will provide the invaluable comfort of a Thanksgiving dinner to thousands of New Yorkers,” said Cuomo.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Friday night: A slight chance of showers between 9pm and midnight. Cloudy, then gradual clearing toward daybreak, with a low around 40.

EVENT of the DAY: Improvius Maximus

Some of the best improv teams, from all corners of the land, gather to compete for Emperor Nero’s pleasure and yours in acclaimed comedy group Face Off Unlimited’s newest show. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Couple offers Ohio home rent-free to Superstorm Sandy victims

A warm-hearted Midwestern couple is offering free rent on an empty four-bedroom house — the only catch is that the tenants must have lost just about everything in Superstorm Sandy. Lauri Weinfeld, 56, and her husband Irwin Weinfeld, 69, are donating their rental house, in Perry Township, Ohio, to storm victims for four months free. Tenants will be responsible for their own utilities. Read more: Daily News

City Harvest salvages food from eateries to deliver to local storm victims

Members of the food rescue group City Harvest picked up meals donated from local restaurants and kitchens and delivered them throughout areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan that were greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday. Read more: NY1

Driver killed after crash on Queens highway

A motorist was killed this morning after crashing on a Queens highway, police said. The 53-year-old victim was driving his 2011 Honda Accord eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway, near the Jackie Robinson Parkway interchange in Forest Hills, when he lost control and slammed into a median at around 3:20 a.m., police added. Read more: NY Post

Internal emails offer details on Osama Bin Laden’s burial

After his dramatic death at the hands of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six, Osama bin Laden’s last rites were kept so covert his corpse was referred to as “the package” and no sailors watched the burial at sea. Read more: Daily News

City outreach efforts abound this Thanksgiving

With so many New Yorkers still struggling to recover from Sandy, the city and other volunteer groups are trying to give them something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office said more than 26,000 Thanksgiving meals were expected to be handed out Thursday. Read more: NY1

Cops investigating whether Holy Cross HS coach had inappropriate contact with students he ‘watched shower’

The NYPD is investigating whether the hoops coach at Holy Cross HS in Queens had any inappropriate contact with the students he’s accused of watching take showers, law-enforcement sources told The Post yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Burglary is crime du jour post-Sandy, stats show

Some of the most cold-hearted locals saw a storm-torn Rockaway peninsula as the location for the perfect heist. Police are waging an offensive against brazen looters and dishonest tow-truck drivers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, NYPD officials said. Read more: Daily News

Mother & son busted with illegal cigarettes & $132,000 in cash

A Queens mother and her son were arrested with 677 cartons of illegal Asian cigarettes and $132,000 in cash, authorities announced today. Ying-Jian Lin, 48, and Xiao Lin, 23, face up to four years in prison for peddling the shady smokes, which are untaxed and don’t carry the required surgeon general warnings, according to a Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Read more: NY Post

 

Shoppers line up for savings on Black Friday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

Fighting off the tryptophan, shoppers made their way out after Thanksgiving dinner eschewing sleep and leftovers for some early morning shopping.

Nearly 150 million people were expected to take advantage of Black Friday sales throughout the country this weekend, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey.

For some, Black Friday has become a tradition with Thanksgiving dinner providing the necessary energy for the shopping spectacle waiting the next morning.

“You eat, relax a little and then you’re ready to shop,” said Marilyn Bloom as she waited online outside Macy’s in Queens Center.

An estimated $586.1 billion will be spent during the holiday season, according to the NRF, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.

“Though the Black Friday tradition is here to stay, there’s no question that it has changed in recent years; already there is a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday promotions,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Many shoppers have begun to skip the long lines of Black Friday, instead opting for the ease of buying online on Cyber Monday. For others, the yearly practice of lining up the night of Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

“I do this every year. I prepare, check the deals and know exactly what I want. That’s how you have to do it, or you’ll be lost,” said Gabrielle Gandy, 37.

While Black Friday has begun to creep deeper into Thanksgiving – some national chains opened as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday – most stores in Queens Center waited for the stroke of midnight before opening their doors.

A DJ spinning records on the bottom floor provided the soundtrack to the party-like atmosphere in the Queens mall.

Z100’s Skeery Jones was also on hand giving customers a chance to win gift cards to the mall through a bevy of games.

As midnight approached, a New Year’s Eve like anticipation built outside Macy’s, which had the mall’s longest line, with customers even counting down the time until the doors would open.

“You have to get in there fast, but you don’t want to get stepped on,” said Erick Cruz as midnight approached.

Once crowded hallways emptied as shoppers flooded into stores as soon as the gates rose.

While some shops had hundreds of people lined up waiting to get in, others had none allowing shoppers to stock up on savings while avoiding the waiting and the crowds.

“It’s kind of crazy not to come. You’re paying less and there’s not even a line,” said Vic Calderon at Banana Republic, which no lines, but was offering 40 percent off.

A couple of blocks west at Queens Place, buyers looking to stock up on gadgets lined up outside the mall’s Best Buy hoping to score the hundreds of dollars of savings the electronics megastore was offering on televisions, computers and phones.

A floor up at Target, customers poured in at 9 p.m. to stock up on clothing, electronics and appliances.

Wielding multiple bags in each hand, Rachel Morales, 36, said however crazy it may get on Black Friday, the crowds are well worth it.

“I’m done Christmas shopping. Maybe just a couple of more small things,” she said. “Wait to the weekend before Christmas and then you’ll see craziness.”

Cuomo visits Breezy Point, promises community will come back stronger


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thanksgiving Eve visited first responders and Breezy Point residents and promised them that, despite the current turmoil, the entire New York community would be rebuilt and stronger in a year’s time.

“Today you see a day of damage, but you come back here in a year from now and you will see a community that is rebuilt better than before and a community that is stronger than it was before,” he said. “Because that’s what Breezy Point is all about and that’s what New York is all about, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

The governor, surrounded by state and federal officials who represent the area, called the collaboration between communities in the Rockaways, and the state as a whole was touching and something he was proud to be a part of. The small signs of recovery already showing in Breezy Point, Cuomo said, were inspiring and a good sign for the future.

“This is a special community, Breezy Point, and this is really devastating damage,” he said, “but you know it’s also a metaphor for what this is really a metaphor for what this is all about: it’s a very strong community, and they’re rebuilding and you see progress already. And it’s a heartwarming story around Thanksgiving the way people have come together, the way New Yorkers have come together, and the way the spirit of the community is going to rebuild.”

Alleged ‘cannibal cop’ denied bail, plotted to feast on victims for Thanksgiving: reports


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

The alleged “cannibal cop” will remain behind bars this Thanksgiving after reportedly planning to feast on “girl meat” during the holiday.

Prosecutor’s read transcript obtained from Valle’s computer during a hearing yesterday, according to multiple reports.

“I’m planning on getting some girl meat,” said Valle, according to transcripts. “This November, for Thanksgiving. It’s a long way off, but I’m getting the plan in motion now. She’s not a volunteer. She has to be abducted. I know where she lives. I will grab her from her house.”

The six-year NYPD veteran was busted by federal agents in October after files with more than 100 women were found on his computer.

The Forest Hills resident, who pleaded not guilty on Monday, plotted to kidnap, cook and eat the women, authorities said.

Valle was denied bind and a trial was set for January 22.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 52. Winds from the NNE at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 41. Winds from the NNE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Monthly Jazz Jam at Flushing Town Hall 

Professional jazz musicians, jazz students and music educators are welcome to come jam and meet fellow musicians at this monthly drop-in event at Flushing Town Hall. Open to the general public with a $10 admission. Performers, students and members get in free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Burglary is crime du jour post-Sandy, stats show

Some of the most cold-hearted locals saw a storm-torn Rockaway peninsula as the location for the perfect heist. Read more: New York Daily News

Giant sinkholes a problem in Queens after Sandy

First they were flooded by Hurricane Sandy and now they’re being swallowed by sinkholes. Read more: ABC New York

Queens restaurant owner to offer free Thanksgiving dinner to residents

A Queens restaurant owner is spreading some Thanksgiving cheer for residents hit by Hurricane Sandy. Read more: NY1

Police question man in ‘John Doe Duffel Bag’ Brooklyn shopkeeper killing cases

Police were questioning a man Tuesday night that they said matches the description of a man seen on surveillance video near a recent murder scene in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, WCBS 880 learned. Read more: CBS New York

Giuliani: MTA chair would make great NYC mayor

Rudy Giuliani believes Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota would make a great New York mayor. Read more: Fox NY

PETA asks Obama to opt out of turkey pardon

It’s a White House tradition with a century and a half of history behind it, but PETA is asking the White House to skip it this year. REad more: ABC News

Amid Gaza diplomacy, bus bomb hits Tel Aviv

A bomb struck an Israeli bus near the nation’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding 10 people and complicating major diplomatic efforts to forge a truce between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. Read more: AP

MTA Thanksgiving weekend service


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Starting Wednesday, New York City buses and subways, and area regional trains will operate on special schedules for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Subways and Buses

On Thanksgiving Day (November 22), subways and buses will operate on a Sunday schedule, with additional service on the 42nd Street Shuttle for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Also, some bus routes will be impacted by the parade.

On Friday, subways and buses will run on a weekday schedule with some exceptions.

LIRR

There will be additional LIRR trains on Wednesday, November 21 and Thanksgiving.

On Friday, it will operate on a near-normal weekday schedule, but off-peak fares will be in effect from Thursday through Sunday.

During the four-day weekend, riders can also use the Family Fare discount, where children aged five to 11 are just 75 cents, and parking will be free at many stations.

The LIRR will continue to run extra weekend trains for six holiday weekends, through December 30.

Metro-North

Metro-North will operate extra trains departing from Grand Central on Wednesday, beginning at 1 p.m.

On Thanksgiving, it will run on a holiday schedule with extra morning service into the city and extra late morning and early afternoon trains out of NYC for those attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day.

On Friday, Metro-North will operate on a Saturday schedule with extra service during a.m. and p.m. peak times. Thursday through Sunday, off-peak fares will be in effect, and parking will be free at many stations.

There will also be extra weekend trains on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines through December 30.

Staten Island Railway

There will be extra SIR trains added on Wednesday, beginning at 2:31 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m.

Bridges and Tunnels

Routine maintenance and temporary construction work at all MTA bridges and tunnels will be suspended starting at noon on Wednesday, November 21, until early Monday morning, November 26.

 

Big-hearted people help Sandy victims during the holidays


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE RIVER FUND NY

Cans of vegetables and boxes of macaroni brought Linda DeSabato to tears.

DeSabato, owner of Vallo Transportation, engineered her company’s first Thanksgiving food drive, weeks after Superstorm Sandy drowned hopes of traditional festivities for thousands.

Within days of announcing the drive, crates of sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and jugs of apple cider, donated by a roster of generous employees, inundated the lobby of her Whitestone office — reminders of why holidays exist.

“It’s about the spirit of thanks and giving and gratitude so that the tradition of Thanksgiving goes on,” said DeSabato. “People have lost a tremendous amount but there’s always something to be thankful for.”

On Tuesday, November 20, members of non-profit food source The River Fund NY collected the donations from DeSabato’s office, adding them to what will create a Thanksgiving meal for many of Sandy’s victims, striving to retain some semblance of the holiday season.

“It’s a sense of normalcy,” said DeSabato. “It’s done every year. It’s warm, it’s fuzzy and even in the worst times it makes people feel good.”

Swami Durga Das, director of The River Fund NY, has travelled to storm ravaged neighborhoods almost daily since Sandy struck, leading caravans of food, batteries and diapers to over 700 families.

“We’ve been a busy little group,” he said.

On Monday, The River Fund NY assembled 2,000 turkeys to be distributed to people in the Rockaways. On Thanksgiving, the group will distribute 1,000 holiday meals to Averne residents.

After days of meals of applesauce, raisins and tuna fish, The River Fund NY volunteers searched for an item that required no cooking. An unlikely donation led the group to dispense packages of blankets, hygiene kits and cheesecake.

“The cheesecake knocked it out of the park,” said Durga Das. “That was like the item.”

As residents lined up for cheesecake, a World War II veteran, displaced from his home in the Rockaways, hobbled up to Durga Das on his walker and asked him for a piece.

He gave him two.

“There’s a military guy, older gentleman, and it was like ‘Wow a cheesecake, this is making someone happy.’”

Durga Das is no stranger to helping during a crisis. For the first four months after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Durga Das fed first responders, assembling a station near Ground Zero to hand out meals to those cleaning up debris and searching for victims.

“It gave you the same feeling,” said Durga Das. “Really devastated and destroyed. Your food, your shelter, everything. For everyone it’s painful.”

In the wake of the fast-approaching holidays, Durga Das said his group and others like it aim to bring aspects of the holidays to displaced residents and to detract from hard times.

“[Holidays] have that kind of consistency,” said Durga Das. “Things will be OK. You have to keep those things going.”

Holiday party in minutes: Three gourmet cheese plate pairings guaranteed to impress


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

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Whether you’re gathering with friends, colleagues or family this holiday season, entertaining with appetizers is the perfect way to have fun without the stress of creating a multi-course meal. And when the question of what to serve arises and you need an easy-yet-impressive solution, cheese plates are an ideal way to bring a gourmet touch to your event without a lot of effort.

If a cheese plate sounds too basic, think again. It’s all about balancing tastes, textures and visual appeal with a variety of fun food and beverage pairings. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter to get your guests interacting.

Luckily, if you’re in a rush on the day of your gathering, a cheese plate is easy to put together in minutes – no cooking necessary. Just plan to include three to five cheeses per platter – estimate about 3 to 4 ounces of cheese per person – and arrange -your choices on a pretty dish or tray.

There are infinite ways to create a cheese plate that will be the talk of your party. Consider these simple suggestions for a bit of inspiration:

* Play with variety and contrast. Include cheeses in a range of textures, from soft to semi-hard to crumbly or hard, that have a range of flavor profiles. Consider combinations like a soft and creamy brie, a harder aged cheese like Stella Sharp Provolone and a crumbly Salemville blue cheese.

* Start mild and move to strong. Give your guests a tastebud tour of the many different flavors fine cheeses have to offer. Present a trio of options with varied intensity of flavor including an appealingly tangy chevre like Organic Creamery goat cheese, a buttery Gouda and a bold cheese like Black Creek Extra Sharp Cheddar.

* Shake it up with unusual cheeses. Give guests the opportunity to try cheeses they might not have had before. It’s the perfect way for them to sample something that could become a new favorite. Look for cheeses with unique ingredients, like Great Midwest Mango Fire Cheddar, which has habanero pepper and the rich sweetness of mango.

It’s a great idea to set out some other small food items that pair nicely with cheese, like Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, Marcona almonds, grilled vegetables, sliced fruit or even chocolate.

Cheese and wine famously go together, so offering your guests samples from a few bottles will make the tasting experience even more fun. Keep these wine-and-cheese pairing principles in mind:

* For hard, stronger-flavored cheeses (e.g. Gruyere or aged Cheddar): Medium-bodied reds (e.g. Pinot Noir)

* For soft, young cheeses (e.g. goat cheese): Simple, young wines like sauvignon blanc

* For stronger blue cheeses (e.g. gorgonzola, Danish Blue): Sweet/dessert wines

* For mild, buttery or creamy cheeses (e.g. triple-creme bries): Sparkling wines

* Semi-soft cheeses (e.g. camembert): Chardonnays and full cabernets

Parties should be just as much fun for the hostess as they are for guests. Opting for easy-to-create gourmet cheese plates will save time and allow you to enjoy the tasting experience with friends and family.