By Chris Mellides
Hundreds of people with free turkey vouchers in hand flocked to PAS Automotive in Huntington Monday for Sixth Annual Holiday Giveaway.
Event organizer Andre Sorrentino, who owns PAS with his brother, Pat, was aided by Second Precinct Community Liaison Officer Claudia Delgado, who said the precinct distributed more than 400 turkey vouchers to the community prior to the event, and that about 450 turkeys were handed out in total.
Vouchers were supplied ahead of time to the Fountainhead Congregation in East Northport, the Tri Community and Youth Agency in Huntington, and the Family Service League, which is also in Huntington, Delgado said.
Sorrentino said he and his brother founded the event as a way of giving back to the community and brighten up the holidays for less fortunate town residents.
“A couple of years ago Pat and I were thinking about what a great town Huntington is and how blessed we’ve been to know so many people and have so many friends,” Sorrentino said. “We have our health we have our family. We’ve always wanted to do something for the community and give something back.”
A DJ played music, with local eateries like Jonny D's Pizzeria, Tutto Pazzo Italian eatery and Blondie’s Bake Shop providing food, coffee and refreshments. All were efforts that Sorrentino says speak loudly of the strength and vibrancy of the Huntington community.
“People that I didn’t even know called me and got together with me on this one,” said Sorrentino. “Every year it seems like more people want to be involved.”
Volunteering their time and service to the community at the event were the Huntington Manor, Huntington Village, and Halesite fire departments along with members of the Suffolk Police County Department.
Luigi Petrone, chef and owner of Tutto Pazzo, said that along with his catering, the Sorrentino family entrusted him with managing a social media campaign to spread the word about the event -- a duty he says he was more than happy to do for the occasion.
“There’s a lot of people that are donating their time here and the whole community came together to make this thing happen,” said Petrone. “Andre has a big following for being such a great person and showing a lot of care for all of the people. We have to be here to support him.”
Joan Wright, a Huntington resident and mother of two, was among many who claimed a free turkey for this week’s holiday dinner. Wright belongs to the Fountainhead Congregation of East Northport, and has been a member there for several years.
She says that outreach efforts like the one coordinated by the Sorrentino family are good for the community, and while she appreciates any help she can get, more can be done, particularly for Huntington’s young people.
“I remember Huntington Hospital every year used to have these big picnics in the park, and you could get a ticket and go and do so many things,” said Wright. “There’s nothing for the kids to do here. You’ve got to bring them in, and I think more of that needs to be around.”
Also in attendance were a number of local politicians including Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracy Edwards. She said that she’s been personally involved with the Annual Holiday Giveaway for the last three years and that it’s an important event that helps to make people happier during the holiday season.
“We are a very diverse township, but what is great about having such a great township is that we’re a giving township,” said Edwards.