ROXBURY, MA — Thanksgiving dinners can be small and intimate. Or, in the case of the Yawkey Club of Roxbury, they can be quite large, but still maintain homey feel.
After all, according to Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, the several hundred in attendance at the facility's annual Thanksgiving Dinner are part of a close-knit community, which is in actuality a very large family.
In conjunction with the Greater Food Bank of Boston, and with assistance from Boston Bruins staffers, a traditional Thanksgiving feast was served to the children from the center and their families.
"I think it’s amazing that the Bruins are here helping out, and [the kids] actually get to see you guys, and they actually know that you guys care,” said Lakisha McNaughton, a member of the Yawkey Club of Roxbury Parent Committee. “It’s amazing for them to actually see that.”
With tables packed into the center’s gym, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, guests were treated to performances from artists from the community and children of the center.
When the show was over, it was finally time to eat. The lines snaked up and down the gym, but every mouth was fed, with the B’s staff playing the role of line server.
"Tonight is our annual Thanksgiving dinner that we offer every year to the club members," McNaughton explained. "You get to bring your family members, the kids that go here.
"It’s just a full dinner — full dinner, full turkey, stuffing, ham, and we offer it to all of our parents, families, and their friends as well."
McNaughton, an alumna of the club herself, said she can truly see the value of its program, and fully understands what it does for the community.
"Compared to when I started here in 1988, I thought the club was just about fun and games, but they’ve opened my eyes to show that there’s more to it," she said of Roxbury's Boys and Girls Club. "I work full time, and I’ll do anything for this club.
"They’ve helped me out with my oldest daughter; they’ve encouraged me to stay strong with her.
"My youngest daughter, they’re helping me as well with her, to make sure she gets her education in order, make sure she’s doing her homework.
"Making sure she’s being positive about herself, keeping her self esteem up. They’re doing a lot, and it’s really great."
The facility itself — which McNaughton showed the B’s staff around — is the perfect setting for an afterschool program. Equipped with classrooms, a computer lab, performance spaces, a gym, and even a swimming pool, the Yawkey Club offers children in the community a great place to spend some time after the bell rings, but still be gaining valuable experience.
On Thursday night though, it was about giving back.
"We had so much fun tonight," said Boston Bruins Community Relations' Jennifer Young. "The families and staff were all very appreciative so it always feels good to give back to such a great group of people."
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