The family protection unit of the Albany Police Department presented an early Thanksgiving dinner to community members Tuesday. Despite the rainy weather, organizers said they would at least approach their goal of 1,000 people served on the main room at the Albany Civic Center. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Despite the inclement weather, Tuesday’s community Thanksgiving dinner, presented by the family protection unit of the Albany Police Department, went off without a hitch.
Before the official 5 p.m. start of the 3rd annual feast, long lines of families and individuals threaded through the single entrance to the Albany Civic Center for a holiday meal with all the trimmings. The idea was to provide a dinner for everyone who wanted one, served with the fellowship of local police officers and personnel, officials say.
Halfway through the event, the long rows of tables on the main floor of the Civic Center never seemed quite full. Still, organizers were confident their goal of feeding 1,000 or more community members would be realized.
“It’s going great, despite the weather,” said Bryant Leverett with the APD. “We still have a big turnout. People don’t typically just all come in and sit down.
“A lot them get carryout boxes and take them home. We definitely don’t want to take any of it home, so like in years past, we’ll serve up every bit … the last little crumb.”
Leverett said food and labor for the event is donated by more than 20 local businesses, churches and individuals. A driving force for making dinners happen every year is Gabriel Martin and the Kingdom of God Ministries in Arlington, where she is pastor, Leverett said.
“I volunteered two years ago. I told them, ‘whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it,’” Martin said. “Some people don’t get a meal on Thanksgiving. My heart was into it because I wanted everyone to know that the police are not bad people — that they’re here to help us, that their hearts are bigger than their jobs.
“(Police officers) don’t just watch, they get hands-on. Even the chief comes in and works. I just believe that God has given us the means to help somebody and it’s our duty to make sure that everybody’s OK.”
Police officers estimated they served more than 900 people Tuesday evening. Last year’s number served was about 550.