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Councilman-elect Koo gives out 135 turkeys to needy

Thanksgiving will be a more filling and less expensive occasion for 135 Flushing families this year, thanks to the efforts of City Councilman-elect Peter Koo, a local grocery chain and two community groups.

Koo and the Flushing Chinese Business Association, of which he is president, put together a turkey drive for the area’s needy, purchasing 50 of the birds from Western Beef Supermarket. The grocery purchased 50 more and the Rotary Club of Great Neck contributed 35 of the frozen fowl — all 135 of which were donated Monday.

“Peter Koo called me Friday and said he had an idea and wanted to donate some turkeys to the community, so I said, ‘Peter, if you want to buy, I’ll match whatever you buy,’” said Santino Montalbano, director of real estate for Western Beef, which has 27 locations in the New York metro area. “Basically, we’ve been here 30 years, we have loyal customers and we want to do the right thing for the community.”

Koo and other members of the FCBA loaded the turkeys into a van and drove to several locations throughout Flushing Monday morning, delivering turkeys to needy and elderly residents at the Bland Houses, Latimer Gardens Senior Center, Prince Street Senior Center and Nan Shan Senior Center.

But first Koo handed a couple of turkeys to residents who asked for them in the Western Beef parking lot on College Point Boulevard.

Evelyn Ogletree of Flushing asked Koo for a turkey and said she was happy to hear he would be taking some to public housing projects.

“I think what he’s doing is an excellent thing. This year people really need help,” she said after receiving the first turkey from the stacked pallet. “I most certainly am cooking it for Thanksgiving. This boy’s going home and getting defrosted right now.”

Koo has led a turkey drive for each of the past six Thanksgiving holidays, but previously only delivered 35 turkeys annually through the Rotary. He said the economy, combined with the demand he saw for assistance while on the campaign trail, led him to expand the program this year.

“It’s Thanksgiving. It’s an American tradition,” he said Monday morning before heading out to make the deliveries. “We have to use this occasion to thank God and this is a wonderful occasion to remember our neighborhood, our community people, especially this year because of the economy.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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