Free Christmas meals in Harlem fill bellies and warm hearts

HARLEM, Manhattan – Hundreds of families around Harlem received a hot Christmas meal thanks to the efforts of one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.

The National Action Network’s annual meal distribution event brought together hundreds, including Lynora Ashford, who braved the wet weather and a long line to cheer for the holidays.

“I didn’t have any food stamps,” Ashford told PIX11 News on Saturday. “It’s been a difficult year. This is why I come here to try to improve my life.

Another participant, Stuart Stephenson, said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated fear of not being able to put food on the table.

“It’s a blessing because it’s been hard since COVID. Lots of people lost their jobs and it was hard on a lot of people, ”Stephenson said.

NAN founder Reverend Al Sharpton echoed Stephenson’s sentiments.

“During the pandemic, people lose their jobs, suffer. Lots of places that used to donate food are closed due to COVID, so that means a lot to people who really need it. Nobody is lining up in the rain who doesn’t need it, ”said Sharpton.

Families filled their tables with nourishing Christmas feasts. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, Sharpton and members of the National Action Network wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It’s so important and believe it or not when we feed others we feed ourselves because it’s our way of showing humility and saying how blessed we are and how much we are. convey our blessing, ”Adams said.

NAN’s annual holiday event was also an opportunity to raise awareness about getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

Those who benefit from the food drive could also walk away with a free COVID-19 test – another way to feel fulfilled and healthy this Christmas.

“You come here, have your meal and also get your mask and you get your COVID test and your vaccination: one stop shopping,” Adams said.

Ashford said she hopes the event can continue into the next year.

“Merry Christmas to everyone and I just thank them for the donations they have given us and I hope this will continue every year.”

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