If you are looking for a place to give back on Thanksgiving, you’re in luck! Gobble Gobble Give is dedicated to feeding the homeless and ensuring that everyone can experience some holiday spirit. Gobble Gobble Give distributes food and donations to people in need around the country on Thanksgiving Day. Rachel’s New York chapter will be focusing on toys this year, but you can check out what items Gobble Gobble Give chapters in your city need here.
How did you get involved in Gobble Gobble Give and what has your experience been like?
I responded to a Craig’s List ad looking for someone to start a Gobble Gobble Give chapter in New York City. The founder, Barry Walker, started this 25 years ago in Los Angeles. Today, there are many locations around the country that hand out meals and donations on Thanksgiving Day. The first year I started was 2009, me and a few friends met at The Church of the Intercession in Harlem to make about 30 meals and hand them out to homeless people in the area. Every year since then it grew and grew. By 2019, we had 800 volunteers at the church to prepare meals and distribute them to shelters, group homes, and areas of need. The manager at the church, Tommy Cheng, was so gracious in letting us host so many events there.
How did the pandemic affect the work you do?
When the pandemic hit, it was just too hard to manage and we couldn’t do it in 2020. It was impossible to have that many people in a room together handling food back then. Thankfully, though, the Apollo Theater heard about our work and opened up their space for us to collect donations there. We haven’t been able to have a space to do meal prepping and distribution since the pandemic, unfortunately, but I’m hopeful that we will be able to do that again soon. We went from collecting prepared foods like apple pie, turkey, and stuffing to just focusing on donations. In the future, I’d love to use the Apollo every year for a toy drive, and find another place to work on food.
What kinds of items does Gobble Gobble Give distribute and where are the items being donated?
This year, our main focus is on new or gently used toys and books, but we will still take other donations. If your kid has grown out of a set of toys, we’ll take them and give them to a kid who wouldn’t have them otherwise. We accept canned goods, clothes, coats, blankets, winter gear, baby items, baby formula, and toiletries of any kind. Starting in 2021, we partnered with La Jornada, which is a food distribution organization in Queens. They worked with us to distribute donations and host events, and will partner with us again this year. All of the toys that we collect on Thanksgiving this year will be donated to kids on Christmas Eve at a big event we’re throwing. I’m really excited to work with La Jornada again and to see how the toy drive goes.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, how can individuals best support your mission?
It’s simple – the biggest thing we need is donations. People can register online to drop off donations at the Apollo Theater, we’ll be stationed there on Thanksgiving Day from 8 AM - 12:30 PM. I have an Amazon Wishlist for those who aren’t able to be there on Thanksgiving Day but still want to give back to those in need. It’s going to be a fun, family friendly event. There will be a professional photographer for families to take photos in front of the Apollo marquee, which will have Gobble Gobble Give written on it. Someone recently told me, “I’ve never been at an event where there is so much love in the air.” That’s exactly how it feels— it’s a really happy day where volunteers and donors come together and make a big impact.