Paul Mastroianni, Browning physical education teacher, was solving a “cryptoquote” puzzle on his way home just two days before the conclusion of the annual Thanksgiving food drive led by fifth grade teacher John Carroll and Browning’s Middle School students. Inspired by its timeliness, Mr. Mastroianni shared the cryptoquote with the School community: “An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves.” Authored by Lydia M. Child, these words, as Mr. Mastroianni noted in his email, are “great words to live by with the holiday season approaching.” (Coincidentally, Ms. Child – a school teacher and writer – is best remembered for her poem about Thanksgiving, “Over the River and Through the Woods.”)
In keeping with Ms. Child’s advice, Browning community members – parents, students and faculty alike – came together to provide for others. With “Turkey Day” just a week away, the food drive’s drop-off point overflowed with donated goods destined for New York City’s largest community-based food pantry, the Yorkville Common Pantry (YCP). In past weeks, donors constructed a veritable cornucopia of canned and packaged goods – cranberries, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie filling, cornbread, brown rice, countless cake and brownie mixes, frosting and other desserts – most all the components of a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. On November 18, Mr. Carroll and students assembled and carried the boxed-up items downstairs where they were soon picked up and delivered to YCP.
Mr. Carroll, who has led the drive for the past 10 years, noted, “Browning contributions this season have varied from previous years because YCP has found a new benefactor – a produce farm that donates heaps of fresh fruits and vegetables. So our past request for canned fruits and vegetables was replaced by cries for desserts, desserts, desserts, stuffing, gravy and other items as mentioned above. There were three exceptions to the ”no canned stuff” rule – cranberries, gravy and pumpkin pie filling. The MS Student Council boys enthusiastically spread the word of the new menu to the School, rushing from class to class like town criers. A special thanks to Browning parents, who we suspect had a bit to do with their sons’ generosity. I’m sure the YCP and 700 poor and homeless families thank them, too. A ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to the YCP family and to all of us at Browning!"
Located at 8 E. 109th Street, YCP focuses on aiding residents of East Harlem and other underserved communities throughout New York City. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, YCP distributes grocery packages to between 1,600 and 1,800 families. For more information on YCP, please visit their website at ycp.org. Please click here to view photos of the food drive.