PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Youths from throughout Westchester gathered in Port Chester on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to feed almost 300 members of the community.
Led by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the UJA-Federation of New York, 80 teens set up tables and handed out food to the hungry at the Don Bosco Community Center. The event brought together teens from St. Peter's Parish in Yonkers, the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Port Chester, and synagogues throughout the county to honor the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr.
"I think it's a wonderful way for two faith-based communities to come together around this really pressing, dire issue," said Susan Kohn, executive director of the volunteer and leadership development division of UJA. "It's an amazing way to celebrate the message of Dr. King."
The day was part of Catholic Charities' Feeding Our Neighbors initiative, which will be collecting food from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 for food pantries throughout New York. In addition to setting up, serving and cleaning up, the volunteers also led arts and crafts for kids, and tweeted throughout the day using the hashtag #FeedingNY to raise awareness of hunger in the state. Following the event, the students from both faiths came together for an ecumenical period of reflection.
"To see these groups come together today on this one issue and having kids interact who wouldn't normally interact, it's just a blessing," said Luz Tavarez-Salazar, special assistant to the executive director of Catholic Charities.
The teens who took part in the event believe that it helped spread awareness of King's dream.
"I thought it was really helpful, especially for a community like Port Chester," said Waheed Gonzalez, a Port Chester High School student." A lot of people actually can't get meals every day, so this shows that people do care about our community."
"It's all about people coming together and everyone being equal. It's his dream come alive," said Dillon Orlando, a Scarsdale student.
"Having people from all over Port Chester, black, white and Hispanic, feeding people and eating at the same table. It's an amazing sight to see," said Gricelda Licea of Port Chester.