Mattituck resident Katie Coe is doing her best to make sure no local families go hungry during Thanksgiving this year.
“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it’s sad to see it losing its core values,” Coe said. “It’s being replaced by Black Friday.”
But instead of lamenting the commercialization of her favorite holiday season, Coe, 24, decided she would do something about it. In 2013, Coe held her first holiday food drive on the North Fork. After a brief residency in Pittsburg, where she continued the annual food drive tradition, she is back this year to help local families in her hometown.
This year the food drive collected what Coe estimates to be “several thousands of dollars worth” of non-perishable groceries and raised more than $1,000 cash in its six-day run.
The drive began on November 7, when Coe set up tables outside of the Southold IGA. Over the next two weekends with the help of her family and friends, Coe was stationed in front of King Kullen in Cutchogue and Handy Pantry in Mattituck, collecting goods from local shoppers.
The response was instantaneous.
“After one day, I knew there would be enough food to donate to two organizations,” Coe said. “I actually got to a point where sorting food was completely overwhelming because I ran out of space to move around and had hundreds of each item stacked into boxes.”
Coe originally set out to collect goods for the Community Action Southold Town. After the influx of donations, Coe contacted the Butterfly Effect Project in Riverhead, who on November 18 handed out more than 40 Thanksgiving baskets to local families in need. Coe used the cash raised from her food drive to buy the turkeys and loaded up two cars with food from the drive to help fill the baskets.
“Thanks to Katie, the family of every girl in the Butterfly Effect got a food basket,” said Tijuana Fulford, founder of the not-for-profit group dedicated to helping young girls who might not otherwise have an opportunity to belong to a youth organization.
“It was so nice to see all of it go straight into the hands of others,” Coe said.
And there’s more where that came from. The donation to the Butterfly Project “barely made a dent,” Coe said.
Coe, a 2009 graduate of Mattituck Junior-Senior High School, is no stranger to volunteer work. She helped give back after Hurricane Sandy, spent three months volunteering in the Philippines after a typhoon and last winter biked across France and Spain to raise money for suicide prevention.
“I get to meet the best people in the world… sharing their generosity with people who need it and are grateful for it. I know what my Thanksgiving is about,” Coe said.