NEW YORK (WABC) -- Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season that inspires many to give back and help those less fortunate.
From holiday meals and food giveaways to fundraisers for worthy causes, adults and children alike come together to 'tis the season for folks in need.
Here are some of the many things happening across the Tri-State area.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Fat Joe teamed up with Krasdale Foods and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to give away 3,000 bags of grocery bags filled with meal essentials.
Supplied by CTown Supermarkets, the bags included food products to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, such as chicken bouillon and other canned goods including beans, rice, cranberries, stuffing, tomato sauce, vegetables, and milk.
"These are my people, this is my community," Fat Joe said. "You know what I'm saying? And we want to help more. Thank you all so much. We want to help more. We want to do more, more, more for the community."
The three events took place at UP NYC retail locations in the Bronx and Washington Heights.
School children from Brookside Elementary School ran a Turkey Trot ahead of Thanksgiving in celebration of the food drive they have been hosting at their school. The youngsters have been collecting non-perishable items to donate to Island Harvest Food Bank, a leading hunger-relief organization whose mission is to "end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island."
The food drive is a part of the school's character education program, where currently students are learning about kindness and empathy.
"The donations are a way to showcase these character pillars and give to others in need," principal Unal Karakas said. "The Turkey Trot celebrates the donation to those in need, and also reinforces the skills of collaboration and community, especially as we approach Thanksgiving."
The food drive was organized by the school's student council.
"We decorated boxes and we sent homes letters to tell people what they could donate," said student council Secretary Samuel Ponce.
Gianna Bottone, food drive coordinator with Island Harvest, said the food will be distributed throughout the holiday season.
"We're still serving the same amount of clients as we were doing the peak of the pandemic this time last year," she said.
Baldwin School District Superintendent Shari Camhi said she is proud of the students.
"I think particularly in the world that we're in right now, focusing on other people rather than yourselves is really a welcome opportunity for our young people."
In 2020, Island Harvest Food Bank received their largest food donation from a school from the children at Brookside, and the school planned to break their own record Wednesday.
This holiday season, Island Harvest Food Bank's goal is to have enough food and turkeys to feed nearly 100,000 Long Islanders. The non-perishable items from the Baldwin elementary school will go perfectly with the 17,000 turkeys the organization needs to help Long Islanders struggling to put food on their tables.
Due to the pandemic, the organization is helping more Long Islanders than ever before. From July 1, 2020, through June 30, Island Harvest Food Bank distributed 18.4 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 15.3 million meals.
The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network will host thousands of people for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, but on Monday night, the organization gave away hundreds of free turkeys.
Community leaders saying there are so many in need as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The giveaway has been going on for more than a decade.
Toys for Tots collection boxes have been set up all over New York City, one at the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Pier 36.
Toys can be dropped of through December 20.
Toys for Tots, in partnership with Disney, has hundreds of drop off sites around the city.
Organizers say they are running extremely low on donations this year, partly due to the pandemic.
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