Letter To The Editor: A Thanksgiving Story

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My Thanksgiving story begins on Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving. It has a villain, many heroes and a great ending.

The Community Chest of Port Washington is a co-presenter of the Port Washington Thanksgiving Day Five Mile Run with the Town; it’s a major event with 3,000 runners and the cooperation of three police districts, fire medics, four villages and 200 volunteers.

Early Wednesday morning, I rented a box truck and parked it in the Manorhaven Beach Park parking lot. The plan was to use the truck as a movable storage facility for the 3,000 bottles of water and 1,400 apples being delivered later that day. The forecast for Wednesday evening showed temperatures of 19 degrees which meant that the apples and water would freeze if left outside. I needed to heat the cargo area of the truck or find a garage tall enough for the box truck clearance. At 9 a.m., I called industrial sites around town; no one had a garage that would work, but Joe D’Alonzo at Cow Bay Contracting told me he’d ask around.

Simultaneously, I began to wonder about the water delivery. Back at the Community Chest office, my colleague, Jeanne Rizzo called Ready Refresh by Nestle to check on the timing of the water delivery for the race, which I had scheduled two weeks prior. We had ordered 3,000 bottles of water (one for each participant) and 80 gallons of water (for the mid-way water stop) to be delivered to Manorhaven Park parking lot. When Jeanne spoke to Ready Refresh by Nestle, the customer service person indicated that there was no water delivery scheduled for us on Wednesday; we should expect our delivery on the following Monday.

You can just imagine the conversation; we’ve all had them. You ask to speak to a supervisor, explain the situation and hope for a positive resolution. Except, we didn’t get one in this case. Ready Refresh by Nestle (the villain) told us that their drivers were unusually busy and that we were not going to get delivery on Wednesday, period. We were in complete disbelief. How could Ready Refresh by Nestle reschedule an order of this size without even calling us? When I placed the order weeks prior, I specifically told them about the run and the importance of the delivery date and timing. The irresponsibility of Ready Refresh by Nestle not to rectify this situation after learning of its importance was shocking and incredibly disappointing. Along with the anger we were feeling, came sheer panic. The run was less than 24 hours away. There was no simple way to fix this and Jeanne and I were up to our eyeballs in other run logistical issues.

We reached out for help in every corner: emailed the board of directors, called Stop & Shop, even had an offer of help from a runner who called about race packet pick up. It was board member, Kris Baker of Baker Air (hero number one) who gave us the solution. He called Mike Pascucci at Glen Cove Beer Distributer (hero number two) who came to our rescue. Mike delayed his planned deliveries for the day and within one hour we had our 3,000 bottles and 80 gallons neatly stacked in our box truck. I cried with gratitude and relief in his arms. The apples were delivered without incident an hour later. I got back to the office and there was a message to call Joe D’Alonzo (hero number three). Joe’s friend JB Meyer, owner of Chief Graphix (hero number four) had just settled into his new space on Davis Avenue and he had a garage with a 10 foot, 10 inch clearance. Will you be surprised to find out that my rental box truck was 10 feet, 5 inches from tire to top?

Not only did Joe’s brother drive the truck to Chief Graphix but at 6:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, Joe D’Alonzo was waiting outside Chief Graphix to let us into the garage to pick up the truck holding 3,000 non-frozen bottles of water and 1,400 apples. Joe said to me later that he sees the Port Washington Thanksgiving Day Run as part of the town’s tradition and that as a member of the community, he’ll do whatever he can to help. He wishes that others looked to the race that way, not as a right, but a privilege.

“It’s our town,” Joe said. “It’s our responsibility.”

I am especially grateful this season for the kindness showed by many. Thank you all.

Julie Meer Harnick, Executive Director, Community Chest of Port Washington

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Port Washington News has served the areas of Port Washington, Sands Point, Baxter Estates, Flower Hill, Port Washington North, Beacon Hill and Manorhaven since 1903, serving as a trusted source for local news and community events.

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