This Dad Has Given Out Free Thanksgiving Dinners for 44 Years
Marty Rogers has lived in the same South Bronx neighborhood for his entire 66-year life, and his community is now referring to him as “Mayor Marty” and “Saint Marty.” As Thanksgiving approaches, Rogers is gearing up for his 44th-consecutive holiday dinner at his local church, Immaculate Conception Church.
At first, the dinner only served senior citizens, but expanded to include people experiencing homelessness. “This is our 44th year in a row, never missed, of a Thanksgiving dinner,” Rogers told TODAY.
“They come in the door, they get welcomed, they get a name tag,” Rogers said. “And I get to play maitre d’. ‘How’s the food?’ ‘Is everything OK with you guys?’ And at the end, they come around with seconds of pies. I love to see people (say) ‘I can’t eat no more.'”
The tradition even continued during the pandemic last year, offering a “takeout” version of the special dinner. This year, they will offer both takeout and delivery.
Rogers’ children, Joe and Maria, have helped out with the dinner and other community engagements since they were children.
“I was probably like, 5 years old, so I couldn’t spell very well, and I was a waiter so I would walk around to people’s tables and just draw what they ordered,” Joe Rogers recalled. “I’d draw a little turkey … or create a symbol for cranberry sauce.
“To me, Thanksgiving has always been this big celebration with 250-plus people,” he continued. “It was never anything but that.”
Maria said her father has always instilled the spirit of community service in them. “I would describe my father as someone who truly embodies the spirit of giving, in every aspect, and just knows the importance of community, of treating people with dignity and respect,” she said.