Every table is the kids’ table
GREENWICH — Thanksgiving came a bit early for the members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, who enjoyed a traditional feast on Tuesday evening.
The club served turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, green beans and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie to 402 kids as part of its annual Thanksgiving dinner celebration, which is now in its 16th year. Club officials said they wanted the kids to celebrate together and mark the spirit of the holiday with a great meal.
“They’re thankful for being here at their club,” club CEO Bobby Walker Jr. said. “They’re thankful for being a part of this community. They’re thankful for all the people who are here for them. … Thanksgiving is about family coming together. And to me, this is our extended family from current members to recent alums to our club kids coming back as adults. We’re all together for a good family meal.”
And it was quite a feast — with 30 turkeys and 40 pies — 20 each of apple and pumpkin. The food was prepared, as in past years, by Watson’s Catering. There was enough food for seconds — and thirds or more — so the kids could eat as much as they wanted.
“My favorite part is sitting and eating with my friends because I don’t get to see most of them a lot except when we’re here,” said Kelecia Thompson, 13, who is in her eighth year at the club. “These are people I grew up with here, and I love seeing the staff. They feel like family.”
The kids played a role in putting together the event, working with art teacher Michael Manning to make the autumnal decorations. They turned old basketballs and cardboard boxes into Thanksgiving turkeys and pilgrims, and also posted lists of what they are thankful for.
“It’s great to see so many people care about the club,” said Patrick Lane, 12, is in his sixth year as a club member. “This is my club and I like how people support it. This is our place to come.”
Walker thanked Don Palmer, the club’s director of programs, for the successful meal. Palmer spends months coordinating the event, with a lot of help.
“This is the best feeling you can have,” Palmer said. “The kids are so excited, and they’re going to eat a great meal. It’s all good.”
A number of famous faces from around town dished up the generous helpings of turkey and trimmings. Chief of Police James Heavey and Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Siciliano, both of whom attended the club as youths, helped to serve the meal, with help from repeat volunteer interim Superintendent of Schools Ralph Mayo and several first-timers, including Greenwich United Way CEO David Rabin.
The staff appreciated the help from the volunteers.
“This is always special to me,” Palmer said. “I love bringing the club alumni back to help and having members of the community serving the kids. It’s a great feeling when you know the community is behind your event and are going to send 400 kids home full from food. It ties everything together.”
Walker marveled at all the smiling volunteers.
“That’s what this is all about,” he said. “People get to see the difference they can make. The kids get to see the people who are here to support them. Everybody realizes that we all do it together. That’s what I like about this.”
The event was made possible through the support of Morgan Stanley, which served as the event’s sponsor, along with Christina and Richard Wolff and Michael Creamer. Stew Leonard’s donated the turkeys, as did Watson’s Catering. BJ’s Wholesale Club donated a gift card so the club could purchase any other items needed on the menu.
“This is something really special,” Walker said. “It’s about our community coming together to take care of our kids.”