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Feeding New York This Thanksgiving

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In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, like so many other New Yorkers, I wanted to find a way to give back my community. I thought maybe I could feed a few needy families a Thanksgiving meal. By the time this idea spread to my friends, family, co-workers and employees, we were able to feed more than 40 families that first year. And so the non-profit, FeedingNYC, was born.

FeedingNYC is an annual program whose mission is to provide complete Thanksgiving meals to families in need throughout New York City's five boroughs. Each year hundreds of volunteers get together at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers to assemble, pack, and hand-deliver meals to the city's shelters and to support organizations such as Women in Need and Catholic Charities. Over the past nine years, the program has grown significantly; in 2008, we fed 2,008 families; in 2009, we fed 2,250 families; and this year we will feed 8,000 families in need.

How did such a simple, small idea achieve such growth? Well, the answer to that is also simple. FeedingNYC taps into the very basic human desire to connect. I know the power of this principle from my business: We've created change in the marketplace by helping thousands of businesses around the world connect with their consumers in deeper, more meaningful ways. FeedingNYC does this on such an immediate, gratifying level. One year while I was out on a delivery, a little boy opened his door, looked up at me and asked, "Are you a good person or a bad person?" I said, "I'm a good person. I'm bringing a Thanksgiving meal to your family." The boy's sister then joined him at the door, where they began checking out the box of food I had brought with me. Their mother came running, understandably concerned that a stranger was with her kids. I explained who I was, and that I just wanted give her a free turkey dinner and a great Thanksgiving. She just froze for a second, and then threw her arms around me and started to cry. She stepped back and said to me, "I thought my family was forgotten, but now I realize that people care about us. For the rest of my life, when I get out of this shelter, I will feed a family and pass this great day forward."

When businesses in the local community heard about FeedingNYC's efforts, they wanted to help out too. Today, many businesses and organizations offer their time and resources to assist in our mission: The Robin Hood Foundation is raising funds to help us achieve our goal of feeding 8,000 families this year; Flat Rate Moving donates all the boxes for the meals and provides the trucks to deliver the meals; Wegman's donates all the incredible food; and Pier Sixty and Chelsea Piers donates their space for packing and assembly of the meals. All this comes together when hundreds of volunteers take time out of their holiday week to make these meals a reality.

Hundreds of volunteers are set to converge once again at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers Tuesday, November 23, 2010, to help the local New York community. Volunteers will arrive as early as 5:00 a.m. to pack the dinner then hand deliver them. We will begin loading trucks around 9:00 a.m. and then deliveries will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We are still seeking assistance both in the form of donations and volunteers. If you have the time or resources, please visit www.feedingnyc.org. We'd love for you to join in the magic that comes with connecting with and assisting our community.

Robert LoCascio, CEO and Founder of LivePerson, and Founder of FeedingNYC.