SANBORN -- While most students were taking in classroom lectures Tuesday, seven Niagara County Community College culinary students were baking 20 turkeys for low-income residents in Niagara Falls.
Partnering with the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, the school's Culinary Club cooked up about 400 pounds of turkey and made gravy and 100 pounds of mashed potatoes to help provide Housing Authority residents and some of the city's other economically deprived an early Thanksgiving dinner in the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Center.
Club Co-president Margaret Minderman -- who described herself as a "typical nontraditional 56-year-old student" -- said club members worked with chef Mark Mistriner, college culinary department chairman, to prepare the food.
"We came in at 6:55 a.m., had the turkeys in the oven at 8 a.m. and had them out by 2 p.m. Then we prepared the mashed potatoes and gravy and carved and packaged the 400 pounds of turkey so the Housing Authority could pick it all up at 4 p.m. and serve dinner to some 300 people at 6 p.m.," she said.
"We do a lot of things, but this was a great thing to do for those people. The Housing Authority needed someone and some place to cook the food, so this was a good service-based project we could handle. . . . It was a great way for the students to give back to the community," Minderman said.
Other Culinary Club cooks were Scott Hardin, April Hall, Co-president Dana Guy, Nicole Kropczynski, Michael Stahl and Joseph Jakubaszek.
Minderman said the Housing Authority called Mistriner for help because it didn't have the staff available this year to pull off the dinner.
This was the 15th consecutive year the authority has offered its clients and others a full Thanksgiving dinner, said Angela L. Smith, the manager of the Jordan Gardens public housing complex, who coordinated the effort. She said authority staff did all the serving.
Kelly Mariano, Housing Authority tenant services coordinator, said other people also helped provide the dinner. Wegmans and the Seneca Niagara Casino each donated 10 turkeys, while the authority purchased the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner necessities. A majority of the desserts were homemade, Smith said, and donated by the staff.