Jacquez Jackson, 12, (front) and his friend Onyx Green, also 12, line up for a Thanksgiving holiday feast in the gymnasium of the Boys and Girls Club on Jefferson Street. Up to a 175 kids, plus some parents were served on Thursday, club officials say. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — It was a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings Thursday afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club, 1309 N. Jefferson St.
As a river of neighborhood kids ages 6 to 18 — and their parents — flowed past the serving line, volunteers dished out turkey and dressing, fried chicken, ham, rice and about a ton of sweet desserts. Verbal communication in the gymnasium, where participants had their meal, was difficult at best. Thanksgiving holiday dinners have been a tradition at the location for more than 15 years said Jason Belk, service director of the Jefferson Street Club.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to our parents and to our children,” Belk said. “This time of year is about family and fellowship, so we try have a dinner right here in the gym.”
Belk said labor for the festive undertaking was a joint effort by parents of the members, as well as club staff members.
“Parents donated all the sweets, desserts, paper products and the drinks,” Belk said, “and the staff cooked the meats — the chicken, turkey, hams and the vegetables.”
According to Belk, the Jefferson Street Boys and Girls Club expected 150 - 175 kids for the savory feast, with more than 50 parents.
“We’re still counting,” Belk said. “We’ll keep serving till it’s gone.”
There are nine Boys and Girls Clubs in Albany, Club officials state, administering programs intended to assist over 3,000 kids ages six to 18 in developing various skills, attitudes and character to help them succeed in life. The Clubs, which were originally called Boys Clubs, began in Albany in 1965, officials say.