Families struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy enjoyed a hot Thanksgiving meal Thursday, thanks to the mayor's office and the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Disco music filled the air and plates of food filled bellies at a food distribution site at MCU Park in Coney Island.
The mayor's office provided thousands of pounds of hot, already-made meals across the city, in addition to transportation for families who wanted to sit down and have a free Thanksgiving meal.
"We have help," said Lynisha Sano, a Sandy victim. "There's people here who don't even know anybody and they come help us."
The mood was lively yet somber, with many still dealing with the aftermath of Sandy nearly a month later.
"I'm here simply because I lost my apartment, with everything," said Joe Dee, a Sandy victim. "This is the first time in 34 years I'm seeking help from the city."
With each story of loss, more stories of people helping people followed, like the DJ who voluntarily provided the music at Thursday's event.
"These people are sad around here," said Rican Vargas, the "commander-in-chief" of the Coney Island Dancers. "I want to bring a little music, a little fun, just make them happy."
Also making them happy was former Major League Baseball pitcher and native New Yorker John Halama.
"Got some good feedback from people, some smiles," Halama said. "Some of them are broken down and everything, cried a little bit, but it just feels good to help out in any way you can."
The experience also helped young volunteers learn how to make a difference.
"I feel bad for the other people because they don’t have anything, and I want to help them out," one young volunteer said.
While local lawmakers vowed not to give up on recovery efforts, they also said the efforts of volunteers were heartwarming.
"Some lady came with about 10 pies today, homemade," said City Councilman Domenic Recchia. "She says 'I’ve been baking for the past three days.'"
"We just to let them know that they are not alone," said State Senator Diane Savino. "We're not going to go away after the initial disaster seems to have been dealt with. We're here for the long haul, to help them rebuild not just their home but their community.
Coney Island residents told NY1 that there is one thing that came out of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it’s the resilience they learned because of it. That’s one thing they said they were thankful for this Thanksgiving.