It’s Saturday morning live! Ex-SNL star Tracy Morgan returns to Brooklyn roots for Thanksgiving food give-away

Wes Parnell and Larry McShane, New York Daily News
·3 min read

Comedian Tracy Morgan came home for Thanksgiving.

The one-time star of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” returned Saturday morning to Brooklyn’s Tompkins Houses to help distribute more than 1,000 holiday turkeys to residents lined up in the neighborhood of his youth.

“I never left,” said Morgan, who knew many of the recipients by name as he teamed with his son Tracy Jr., 29, and daughter Maven, 7, to hand out the birds in the shadow of his old building. Morgan, 52, was raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant before launching his career in comedy, television and films.

The turkeys were donated by Morgan, Stop & Shop and the Wakefern Food Corp., and the residents also received a coupon redeemable for other holiday food items.

“Tracy grew up here, and that’s a phenomenal story,” said City Council member Robert Cornegy Jr. as he joined in the charitable effort. “He can point to the fourth floor here where his parents met. That’s inspiring for young people, to know that he came from here.”

Maxx Nunez, 11, stood in line with a Sharpie in hand to land a turkey and an autograph from the funnyman.

“Good thing he didn’t leave before I got here, because this is one of those one-time things,” said Nunez, joined by his grandmother Jaqueline Santana.

The 57-year-old Santana, a longtime resident of the projects, expressed her admiration for Morgan’s dedication to his roots.

“It’s super,” she said. “It’s a good example of ‘Yes, you can.’ With the right work and studying, you can do it. People think that because you are from the projects, you are the worst people. But no. Good people with education, who respect other people and help their communities, come from here.”

Virgen Roman, 65, didn’t know Morgan before turning out to get a turkey and a photo with the star.

“This is perfect, because we have a lot of people who can’t afford it, who are sick and can’t go out and bring it back,” said Roman, a 21-year resident of the Tompkins Houses. “We are poor here, it helps. My God, may he bless him.”

Suheily Rodriguez, 38, arrived with her teenage daughter and a niece. Though she works in the intensive care unit at a nearby hospital, she said COVID-19 has taken a financial toll on her family despite a steady paycheck. A portion of her money goes to cover medical costs for her 5-year-old son, who is at high risk for the virus and is now staying with relatives.

“I got a turkey, which is a big help,” she said. “Being an essential worker, then having to go to a supermarket and spend your own money to feed your family is difficult. We are all struggling.”

Cornegy watched as Morgan brushed aside the praise from the excited folks in his old stomping grounds.

“We get to watch him on television, laugh, but now we get to see his compassionate side and it’s inspirational,” said Cornegy. “There are young people and adults who watch him on television. And to be able to see him, touch him, watch how he gives empathy, inspires others to do the same.”

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