“Nothing says Thanksgiving more than a homemade pie, not even a turkey!” says Dianna D’Amico, a Park Slope native and current Long Island resident who was inspired to give back this Thanksgiving season in the best way she knows how: by baking up a storm.
“I enjoy cooking and baking so much that I thought to myself that everyone should have a homemade pie in time for Thanksgiving,” she says. “I am bubbling with enthusiasm, the idea that one person (with a little help from her friends) could spread so much love with a pie.”
So in October D’Amico launched the campaign 45 Pies in 45 Days, with a simple goal to raise enough money, $10 a pop, to fund 45 pies — blueberry, sweet potato, pumpkin, cherry, and apple — for families in need in Brooklyn and Long Island in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. What she didn’t realize was the enthusiastic response the campaign would receive.
“We surpassed our goal in one week!” she reports. “We will be providing more than 300 pies to our neighbors in temporary housing, subsidized day care centers, and senior centers, from Brooklyn to Suffolk.”
This isn’t her first foray into fundraising. She held Toys for Tots drives on her front lawn for a decade, and to assist neighbors affected by Hurricane Sandy, she created a fundraiser where neighborhood kids spent the afternoon decorating gingerbread houses to raise money for food and supplies.
“I am always thinking, ‘What will it take to put a smile on my neighbor’s face?'” she says. “We are one community.”
Still, this project requires a bit more muscle. Thankfully, she’s got some helpers to aid with the rolling pins.
“I am doing most of the baking, friends and family are pitching in,” she says. “My daughter Starr, 16, is a huge help. We also gained support from a local Long Island bakery, Benkerts of Centereach.”
D’Amico, who grew up on 20th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and attended St. John the Evangelist, still returns regularly — you may recognize her name from the photos she’s shot around the neighborhood and often shares with us.
“When you spend your childhood, especially in the ’80s in Park Slope, you make a connection that lasts a lifetime,” D’Amico says. “No matter where I ‘live,’ my heart is on 5th Ave.”
Even as she’s making all these local pie deliveries, don’t be surprised if you bump into her actually buying a slice.
“My favorite pie lives at Four & Twenty Blackbirds,” she says. “The pink peppercorn chocolate. I also am a sucker for a slice of Entenmann’s pumpkin.”
If you can help contribute to the campaign, you can sponsor a pie online at the gofundme page, and you can follow the progress on their Facebook page. Based on its success so far, she’s already planning for next year — and she says this is all a nice reminder that it doesn’t take much to do good.
“Most of all, we all have the capacity to make a huge difference by doing something small.”
Top photo by Dianna D’Amico