The distribution included all the fixings: Mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, fruits, pies, breads and a 15-pound turkey, of course.
Rabbi Robert Lennick had never seen what 300 turkeys look like all together.
After the annual Thanksgiving turkey distribution by the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties on Tuesday, Nov. 22, Lennick can now say he has.
"It's pretty incredible to watch and see all the volunteers," he said. "These are like angels, who come here week after week to support the pantry. This just captures, I think, the spirit of Thanksgiving in the best way."
Lennick is the Jewish Federation's new executive director, having started working at the nonprofit in September. He succeeds the late Gloria Max in the position, continuing the longstanding mission of helping the community, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. The Jewish Federation's Jerry Doliner Food Bank distributes at 470 Andalusia Avenue food to families in need every week, but Thanksgiving is one of its largest distributions.
"It's humbling to even attempt to try to fill her shoes," said Lennick of Max's impact. "... She set an example that really has inspired so many people for so many years, and we're the lucky ones in a sense. We get to stand on her shoulders, and Ray's shoulders, and I hope we live up to her good works."
This year, over 275 families were scheduled to pick up groceries to help them celebrate Thanksgiving — and Lennick said the distribution included all the fixings: Mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, fruits, pies, breads and a 15-pound turkey, of course. With an average of four people in each family, the Jewish Federation estimated this distribution would help over 1,100 people have a Thanksgiving dinner. It was drizzling the morning of the distribution, and volunteers manned the drive-thru distribution. The cars were lined up all the way down Andalusia Avenue.
"It's just wonderful,"said Marvin Miller, president of the Jewish Federation. "People are happy."
Food insecurity is a major issue, and it's a growing problem all over the U.S, said Lennick, who was previously the CEO at the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. By providing families with a Thanksgiving dinner, it's a way to help them relax during the holidays.
"Any of us could be one meal away from having food insecurity," Lennick said. "You can't predict life all the time, hardly at all, as a matter of fact. The whole point of Thanksgiving is to welcome the stranger. It's interesting, in the Bible, that statement — to remember the heart of the stranger — it's repeated more than any other of the commandments, and this is a way we can help."
Lennick said he moved to Ormond Beach because he wanted to be part of the local Jewish Federation. People here "get it," he said.
"This is the first Jewish Federation where I've seen such a deep commitment to hands-on helping other people," Lennick said.