There will be plenty to be thankful for in Oceanside this holiday season as many Thanksgiving events are scheduled.
On Nov. 15, the Oceanside School District was preparing to host its 28th annual Best Buddies Thanksgiving Feast, after the Herald went to press. The Best Buddies Club was founded in 1989 and is focused on matching those with intellectual disabilities with the average person as a way to form friendships.
Oceanside High School was the first high school on Long Island to start a chapter and now there are 20, according to Laura Garelick, a teacher at the school who also organizes the fest.
“Best Buddies is about forming friendships so that people with disabilities can improve themselves socially and in the community with friends,” Garelick said. “It’s all about bringing people together for the right reasons and friendship especially.”
Garelick said that more than 100 people are expected to attend the event. State Sen. Todd Kaminsky will donate turkey and many local businesses have pitched in by providing food and other materials for the feast. The event is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria and is open to middle school and high school students, especially those taking life skills classes.
Garelick said Penny Ellis, Andrew Landers and Nirmala Ramsalan are helpful advisors, and added that Danielle Rugolo and Shannon Simpson work in similar roles for the middle school chapter of the club. In addition to the feast, cheerleaders and the band Columbus Avenue will perform at the event, football players will show their support and there will be a photo booth, which was donated by Lena Darrin, the mother of one of the aids.
Oceanside High School Castleton will also host a Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. in the School No. 6 cafeteria. It will mark the 19th annual Thanksgiving celebration at the school and about 100 guests are expected to attend, according to Principal Brendon Mitchell.
“It is a great chance for students and teachers to work together outside of the classroom and celebrate,” Mitchell said. “Our connections grow stronger as we prepare a meal and share it together. I believe that students do better when they feel that personal connection and our Thanksgiving dinner is one of those special nights of the school year.”
Mitchell said the event is a potluck dinner with food brought in by students and their families. He added that the event is also open to previous graduates of the school. He cited Joan Mannino and Terrie Finnernan as key planners for the event and said students and staff members cook together during the school day to provide additional food.
The Oceanside School District will also host its annual Turkey Shoot on Nov. 20, during which every building in the district collects food and frozen turkeys, which are sent to the high school, packaged and loaded into cars for delivery.
In addition, the Oceanside Interfaith Council is hosting its 25th annual Thanksgiving Dinner on the holiday, Nov. 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Oceanside High School. The event is open to everyone and features a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.