ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the Rotterdam Elks are helping to make sure families in the local community can enjoy the holiday festivities. On Saturday morning, members of the organization held a food basket distribution event, giving dozens of Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

Pierre Stewart’s family was one of 40 who received a food basket, as he looks forward to celebrating this upcoming Thursday with his wife and children, “We’re excited. She was like, go get that food we could use it.”

He says this event is a big help. As a bartender, he’s experienced challenges because of the pandemic, “I was out of work for quite some time, over a year, so this helps out a lot. There are five people in our family, three children and me and my wife. This is amazing.”

Similar gratitude was evident as food baskets were placed into each car. Members of the Rotterdam Elks say they’re glad to be able to help their local community.

“It’s very gratifying for us to know we are helping somebody in need. They are very appreciative that they will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family and have food for them to eat,” said Jackie Oliveira, Exalted Ruler at Elks Lodge 2157.

The Elks worked with the Mohonasen and Schalmont school districts to compile a list of families in need of a Thanksgiving dinner. In all, volunteers assembled 40 different baskets throughout Saturday morning.

“The members always come together, they always do things like this. We always look out for one another and help each other out, and it’s going to be no different this year,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who is also an Elk.

“We love it. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is all about charity and this is one way that we can give back to the community,” Oliveira added.

Each basket was filled with all the Thanksgiving essentials: turkey, stuffing mix, vegetables, and more. All made possible through monetary and food donations, as well as a grant from the National Elks Foundation. The Rotterdam Elks are also looking ahead to holding a similar event around the holidays.

But for now, everyone is looking ahead to a delicious Thanksgiving meal, “We can’t wait. We’ll put all the food together that they gave us and have a good night,” Stewart said.