Indian Communities Serve Thanksgiving Meals for Sandy Victims

BROAD CHANNEL, Queens— At the American Legion, a community center for U.S. army veterans, dozens of volunteers gather to serve Thanksgiving meals including a flock of Indians and Indo-Caribbeans eager to serve Hurricane Sandy victims.

In an effort to help the hard-hit communities of Howard Beach, Broad Channel, and Far Rockaway community groups came together at the center on Nov. 22 to serve meals that reflected various ethnic tastes and a budding movement to become a part of hurricane relief.

Vermicelli also known as “Vamazelli” brought by Indo-Caribbean community members. (Photo Courtesy of Aminta Kilawan)

Indian spicy channa, Bengali style chicken and rice, and Indo-Caribbean sweet vermicelli were among the tasty foods brought by volunteers, community members, and religious organizations throughout Queens.

Members of the Hindu Temple Society of North America line up to serve Sandy victims. (Photo Courtesy of Aminta Kilawan)

As over fifty volunteers from all five boroughs of the city lined up to serve meals to those in need a group of Indian Hindus wearing white T-shirts with the emblem “The Hindu Temple Society of North America” gathered to serve their vegetarian dishes.

Uma Mysorekar, 66, President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America said that during the past two weeks their Flushing based temple has conducted outreach throughout their Hindu community to raise funds, clothing, and canned food towards hurricane victims.

But she said that serving others in need also relates to her faith. “Serving the needy is like serving God,” she said noting that service is best connected to Hinduism as seva meaning selfless service.

Misba Abdin the president of a Brooklyn based organization for Bangladeshi youth and owner of five Key Food supermarkets in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan has been donating canned food to Sandy victims since the aftermath of the storm.

He volunteered during the center’s Thanksgiving luncheon to show that he and his fellow Bangladeshi community members are part of the Sandy relief effort. “We want to be a part of everything,” he said.

Abdin explained that it can be hard to get along with other cultures in such a diverse city but by serving all races and types of people suffering the impact of the hurricane it shows that as Bangladeshis “we are American.”

Etienne Adorno, 28, a political newcomer who ran for State Assemblyman in Woodhaven, coordinated the special Thanksgiving luncheon and said the event was about looking beyond political, racial, and religious lines to help in the Sandy relief effort.

Event coordinator Etienne David Adorno speaks to a crowd of volunteers. (Photo Courtesy of Aminta Kilawan)

Adorno stood in front of a gathering of volunteers and Broad Channel community members saying that it was wonderful to see “something so beautiful come out of something so tragic” while commenting on the many different groups who came out to help feed those in need.


Interviewing longtime Broad Channel resident Martin Feeney. (Photo Courtesy of Aminta Kilawan

While looking at the trays of chocolate cookies, dozens of pumpkin pies, and loaves of sponge cake Martin Feeney, a life long Broad Channel resident and American Legion community organizer said he was absolutely amazed with the outpouring of help from people throughout the city.

As Feeney noticed three two foot long foil pans of raisin flecked vermicelli he told another community member, “I don’t know what that is…looks like raisins inside” while a volunteer noted  it’s a dessert from the Indian community. Feeney replied, “I guess it’s here so I’ll give it a try.”