Turkey Express: N.S. officials team up with Stop & Shop, Boys & Girls Club to hand out 30 Thanksgiving dinners

Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski unloads meals to give out to residents.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Biting wintry wind Saturday afternoon didn’t deter North Smithfield residents from coming out for food. The warming sentiment of human fellowship seemed evident on the faces of folks waiting in line in their sun-filled vehicles parked or idling along Green Street and in the parking lot outside North Smithfield Town Hall to receive a Thanksgiving meal.

An opportunity arose to give people in need a, “hand up” said Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski. Food need, “could happen to anyone” the administrator said, adding that North Smithfield is fortunate to have the food donation, as well as the Slatersville Congregational Church food pantry, coordinated by Bob Meo. Last week, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island contacted Zwolenski to offer the town up to 30 Thanksgiving turkeys and fixings, such as potatoes and gravy, provided by Stop & Shop.

This year, Stop & Shop is donating 21,500 Thanksgiving turkeys to hunger relief organizations across the northeast through the Annual Turkey Express Program, according to a company press release.  

Saturday arrived, and with it, food packages for North Smithfield residents in need, with packages put together and delivered by the BGCNRI, was then distributed by the administrator and his wife Norine Zwolenski.   

Word had been put out to the public that Thanksgiving dinner food was available and in a showing perhaps emblematic of tough times, close to an hour before the scheduled time for distribution on Saturday, a dozen cars were already lined up, with drivers and passengers waiting in the cold. 

Boys & Girls Club of Northern Rhode Island Chief Operating Officer Nickolas Rogers, left and CEO Gary Rebelo. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo

One recipient of the Thanksgiving dinner food, who recently moved to the town from Vermont, said she was pleased with the good sense of community in North Smithfield. She seemed appreciative of the donated food, noting that everything these days is so expensive, and this is especially hard on retirees on fixed incomes. 

Another recipient of the holiday dinner food came early to ensure his spot in line, and while waiting for the food to arrive, expressed concern for others, noting that perhaps even more dinners could be needed with inflation too high. He added it’s particularly hard if there is only one person in the household working, as is the case in his home. 

While waiting for the food truck to arrive, Norine said of the food distribution, “It’s all about being thankful. We’re fortunate to be able to do this for the community of North Smithfield.” 

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island truck arrived. 

Gary Rebelo, the organization’s CEO, and Chief Operating Officer Nickolas Rogers took food sacks out of the truck. 

They worked fast and hard with the ever-smiling administrator to get the distribution going.

The town’s “first couple,” said they wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and, hope all enjoy celebrating with family and friends.

Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski with wife Norine Zwolenski NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo
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