COVID-19 Didn’t Deter ‘Thanksgiving Elves’ of Project Turkey

December 11, 2020

Project Turkey 2020 NAFI New YorkCarnevale Project Turkey has been a holiday tradition for nearly 30 years and NAFI staff and volunteers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York navigated the challenges of COVID-19 this year to make sure families received the extra boost they needed to make the holiday special.

In Rhode Island, where Carnevale Project Turkey originated, NAFI donated gift cards to Adoption Rhode Island, provided 40 Thanksgiving baskets to families, and even made dog treats from scratch and volunteered at a local animal shelter as part of another tradition that involves providing community service in new ways.

NAFI New York, meanwhile, delivered an impressive 47 baskets/ meals to foster and biological families across three counties.

NAFI CT supported the efforts in Rhode Island and New York by donating $250 gift cards to foster parents for groceries, while also providing 36 families with Thanksgiving dinners.

“It’s heartwarming and wonderful that our staff simply refused to be deterred by challenges posed by COVID concerns and safety precautions and found creative ways to ensure families received the gift of a happy Thanksgiving,” said Lynn Bishop, Executive Director of NAFI CT, NY, and RI. “Family means everything, especially in these difficult times. Our staff and volunteers, affectionally called the Thanksgiving Elves by our regional leaders, simply weren’t going to let down our foster families and other consumers who needed a bright holiday.”Project Turkey 2020

NAFI RI began the tradition 28 years ago, led by former Rhode Island regional director Jerry Carnevale, whose inspired his colleagues to act on the importance of coming together as a community to support the greater community.

Each year, NAFI staff, administrators, and young people come together to embrace the importance of paying it forward by caring for families in need at Thanksgiving. The tradition grew to become a tri-state collaboration, and when Jerry retired in 2018, Project Turkey was officially renamed Carnevale Project Turkey “to ensure that his vision of paying it forward will continue over time, in his name and in his honor.”

Lynn Bishop, NAFI founder Dr. Yitzhak Bakal, and Jerry Carnevale in a file photo.

Preparation efforts begin each summer with the solicitation of donations and fundraising by staff members and clients. NAFI’s regional operations also hold fundraisers and collect food donations to prepare for each upcoming holiday season.

In some non-COVID years this has resulted in nearly 100 to more than 200 Thanksgiving meals and baskets being distributed across Rhode Island alone, for example.

To donate to Carnevale Project Turkey contact Anne Marie Armstrong, the NAFI RI office manager, by phone at (401) 921-8703 or by email at