OSSINING, N.Y. – Twelve-year-old Michael Gorlin isn’t Christian, but he couldn't think of a better thing to do with his time Tuesday than help serve Christmas Dinner at Ossining’s First Presbyterian Church.
The Briarcliff Middle School student, and members of Briarcliff Manor’s Congregation Sons of Israel, volunteered his time Tuesday to help serve Christmas dinner to hundreds of residents in Ossining and Briarcliff Manor. Michael and more than 50 other Jewish volunteers in Ossining and Briarcliff Manor helped cook and serve food as part of a community tradition that dates back more than 25 years.
“I feel like Christmas is about giving and it’s supposed to be a jolly and fun time of year that I’ve never really gotten to experience because I’m not Christian,” Michael said Tuesday. “So this is my Christmas, helping others enjoy their Christmas and have something good to eat. That’s what I love about this, everyone is getting but everyone here is also giving.”
Coordinator Judy Boehr, who’s helped volunteer for more than 20 years, said each of the dozens of volunteers brought food from home to help serve Tuesday’s dinner to more than 100 area residents in need. The volunteers make enough food each year for community members to take a second meal home, Boehr said.
“We don’t celebrate Christmas so we don’t have much else to do today, so we help those who need it,” Boehr said. “It’s very important for people to contribute to the community. We live here and this is our community and if we can make people’s day a little bit brighter, then why not?”
Ossining High School students and twin sisters Jessica and Jillian Hampton have been volunteering to help serve dinner for as long as they can remember. The 17-year-olds said it’s a tradition they expect to continue for a long time.
“It’s a nice thing to do but it also makes people feel good,” Jillian said. “I would hope that if I had nowhere to go that somebody would come do it for me.”
Volunteers said Tuesday’s dinner was dedicated to Midge Myers and Joan Rottenberg, members of CSI who recently passed away. Volunteer Mel Speier, who has been helping cook dinner for more than 25 years, said he comes back every year because of seven words he heard when he was younger.
“The best seven words anyone can say are ‘because it’s the right thing to do,’” Speier said Tuesday. “This is the right thing to do and it makes people happy so I love doing it.”