To be the light in the darkness—that was Kings Kids Christian Outreach ministry leader P.J. Balzer and his wife Catherine Gutierrez’s goal as they hand-delivered 100 turkeys to individual homes throughout the Mastic, Mastic Beach and Shirley area on Monday, Nov. 23, in addition to 100 more that were picked up at a COVID-safe drive-through, where turkeys were placed in trunks of cars.
For years, the group celebrated the holiday at the Evangel Temple in Mastic Beach with a cooked meal, while simultaneously handing out turkeys. This year was a bit different due to COVID restrictions, but Balzer and his team still managed to feed hundreds of families through an annual donation made by Rico’s Clothing in Center Moriches. Despite being closed for almost half of the year, the owner, Balzer said, still fulfilled his promise of 200 turkeys.
“Instead of this being numbers driven, it has become about us giving people empathy and really understanding what they are going through,” he added, explaining that the kids are often waiting by the door for when he arrives with weekly supplies. “It’s one thing to invite people for a dinner and another to go into the neighborhoods; you really get a different perspective.”
One thing that has come from the pandemic, he said, was opening his and his wife’s eyes even further to the desperate poverty numbers in the area. His ultimate dream is to open up a space on Neighborhood Road, the heart of the struggle, as he calls it, similar to what was created at Lighthouse Mission in Bellport.
“It’s really not just about leaving a turkey; it’s more meaningful, and this is what Thanksgiving is all about,” Balzer continued, attributing his good deeds to his Christian faith. “We’re so thankful we are actually able to give back to people who don’t have as much as we do.”
"If there ever was a year to love our most vulnerable neighbors as we love ourselves in the most practical ways like Thanksgiving food, it's this year," added Catherine Gutierrez of why they continue their efforts.