Ocasio’s Delivers Hundreds of Thanksgiving Meals to Area Families in Need

Students, staff and volunteers of Ocasio’s True Martial Arts spent Tuesday and Wednesday preparing supplies for over 500 Thanksgiving dinners for struggling families. (Alex Guittarr photograph for WHAV News)
A Haverhill karate school took time this week to help families in need have a feast ready for Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday, the students and staff of Ocasio’s True Martial Arts held their 25th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Brigade event to help deliver more than 500 holiday meals to families across the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.

Owner Herman Ocasio, who organizes the event with his wife Kim, told WHAV the school’s goodwill gesture has grown exponentially over the years. Twenty-five boxes of food were donated during the program’s first year, and in 2018, 525 meal boxes containing turkey and enough canned goods to feed a family of four will be given away.

Ahead of Wednesday’s distribution day, the couple transformed their Merrimack Street studio into a makeshift meal prep machine, with 30 student and parent volunteers filling food boxes. Donations were supplied by families from Ocasio’s True Martial Arts schools in Haverhill, Merrimac and Plaistow, N.H.

One of the student volunteers, Tyler Langlois, told WHAV he has been assisting with the event for a decade, having attended the school since he was three. He was inspired to participate after having seen people in his community go hungry around this time of year. “I just really wanted to help people in need,” he told WHAV.

For his part, Herman Ocasio said the best part of his Thanksgiving philanthropy is passing on the tradition to others. “It’s more inspiring to allow other people to do it. I’ve got the feeling, but to see these children help and their parents go and take their children to deliver a box, it’s very inspirational,” he said.