STAMFORD, Conn. — Fresh vegetables, turkey and smiles filled the tables at the Stamford’s Boys and Girls Club as kids served and ate the Thanksgiving dinner they helped make Wednesday.
“Everyone will be leaning back with a full belly,” Jessica Anderson, 13, said as she sliced vegetables.
“I know it’s going to be good because we all helped to make it,” said Jasmine Garcia, 13, adding she loves to cook anyway and was glad she could do it for the students at the club.
With the help of volunteers and staff members, the older students, like Jasmine and Jessica, prepared the meal Monday and Tuesday after school, not only to teach them how to cook, but also so they learn a valuable life lesson.
“Part of livf is not only taking, but giving,” Michael Cotella, executive director of the Stamford Boys and Girls Club said.
The organization also hosted the Thanksgiving feast because it works to have a family atmosphere, and the staff feels it’s important to celebrate the holiday at the club, Cotella said. He added there are many kids that come from low-income families who will not have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
“It’s a sad commentary, but it’s the truth,” he said.
In addition to volunteers coming from all over the community to help the kids prepare and serve the food, a lot of the food and drinks were donated by local companies, said Ken Salem, director of Grant Writing.
“We couldn't be happier,” he said. There was enough food to be able to serve the expected 250 to 300 guests, made up of kids at the club, parents and family members, and others from the community.
This is the second year the club has hosted the holiday meal and is a result of the Healthy Habits Nutrition program in which the kids partake. The program helps teach kids about nutrition, cooking and exercise.
“Before they know it, they are eating beets and all these things they didn't think they’d eat,” Salem said of the program being able to offer healthy alternatives.