Island Park church hosts Thanksgiving dinner for Sandy victims - FOX 35 News Orlando

Island Park church hosts Thanksgiving dinner for Sandy victims

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By ALICE GAINER, Fox 5 News Reporter

Thousands of people gathered at the Sacred Heart Parish Church on Long Island for a special Thanksgiving Day dinner. 

This Thanksgiving dinner had all the trimmings – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and more. 

"I would normally be at my grandma's house eating with my cousins," said one young participant. 

But this is not grandma's house. This is Sacred Heart Parish Center and about 800 Island Park residents will eat their holiday dinner here.

"We'd be home and I would cook – but we can't," said Veronica Dalton. 

So Veronica and her sons share a table with a family who lives around the corner. 

"I wanted to show my sons it's going to be OK," said Dalton. 

Sitting nearby was Andree Marshall who is no stranger to tragedy. 

"I survived the 1993 bombing, the Belle Harbor plane crash and the World Trade Center," said Marshall. 

Marshall says this Thanksgiving she's grateful for the food this tragedy has brought out in others, especially between her and her ex-husband. 

"For the past 3 ½ weeks he's been at the house because he came there for the kids and we've been working things out as a team," said Marshall. His parents and brothers lost their homes in Breezy Point. 

"We're hurting but we're here and that's the main thing right now. We're family and we're going to get through it."  

The gathering at the parish doesn't just end with dinner. Once folks are done eating they can come out to the hallway and grab whatever supplies they might need like shampoo, canned goods, paper towels, blankets – even food to go.  

There are even crafts for the kids and treats for the pets all put together by United Water and other sponsors who cleaned the floors of the Sandy battered church. 

"The church got a foot and a half of water so they're ripping out the floors," Father John Tutone, Pastor. 

And even though the devastation is still evident all around 11-year-old Aiden keeps things in perspective. 

‘I'm very grateful for what I have even though our house is sort of destroyed," said Aiden. 

A sentiment echoed by many, even if all they have left is each other.

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