March for Meals: Annual Ridge event raises record-breaking funds for Meals on Wheels program

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Donation duty: Steve Diahy and Irene Hanvey enjoyed collecting donations for the March for Meals.
Future seniors: Ashley Santiago and Avital Gershtein enjoyed participating in the march.
The beat of their own drum: Marchers provided entertainment along the route.
Meals on wheels: These participants caught a ride on the route.
Hot dog: Rev. Paul Knudsen cooked up some beef on the grill for the post-march festivities.

They really worked up an appetite!

The day before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade filled Third Avenue, Ridgites took to the street on March 24 for the 1.9-mile “March for Meals” to raise money for the Bay Ridge Center’s Meals on Wheels program. The 23rd-annual event raised the highest amount ever — close to $20,000 — nearly doubling the funds raised at the last event. The event also drew the greatest turnout of all time, according to the center’s deputy executive director.

“It was a tremendous success — it was a beautiful day, we had a great turnout,” said Todd Fliedner. “We broke all records.”

The staff at the Bay Ridge Center currently prepares and delivers 650 meals to local seniors — seven days a week — on seven different routes, including a kosher one, Fliedner said, adding that the successful fund-raiser and the center’s planned move to a larger space on Ovington Avenue will allow them to eventually expand the program and serve seniors with different dietary needs, including those who eat a halal diet.

The march kicked off at the Bay Ridge Center, at the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues, and snaked over to Third Avenue, up to 83rd Street and Fifth Avenue, and then back to the center. Some marchers who brought cans along with them on the route to solicit donations from passersby raised about $1,500 along the way, according to Fliedner, who added that a few local organizations and businesses — and even an individual — donated $1,000 to the march, including Connors and Sullivan law firm on Fifth Avenue, Grimaldi and Yeung Law Firm on Fourth Avenue, veterinarian Reed Zaroff, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where the center is located.

“That just speaks to our community, and how the community gives back,” Fliedner said.

A senior who attended the march and became a regular at the Bay Ridge Center over the past two years said the whole thing went off without a hitch.

“It went very well — the weather was excellent, we had a great march, and people were receptive and donated to the cause,” said Sunset Parker Mary Lennon.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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