Almost 100 eighth graders at Old Rochester Regional Junior High School participated in the annual senior citizen Thanksgiving banquet on Sunday, November 18. The dinner, which is in its 21st year, was attended by over 200 local seniors.
While it is a time for seniors citizens to gather and mingle, the event encourages young students to get to know the older members of their communities.
“I like the interaction between the students and senior citizens,” said ORRJHS principal Kevin Brogioli. “These students really jump at the opportunity to help. They want to be part of the community.”
Each year Brogioli holds an assembly to explain the purpose of the dinner and to solicit for volunteers.
“They do just about everything. Some kids did telemarketing to get donations for the raffle items. Some were in charge of decoration and set-up. Then there are the unsung heroes: the ones who come in afterward to clean up,” he said.
“It went really well today,” said Caitlin Meagher, ORR Food Service director. “We came in on Friday and cooked the turkeys. We had eight turkey breasts and six turkey rolls.”
The dinner also consisted of mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Slices of apple pie were served for dessert.
Dressed in white shirts and black pants, the students served the senior citizens, bringing them juice, coffee, dinner plates, and dessert. The walls were decorated with hand-made Thanksgiving-themed images and cornucopias and bowls of gourds adorned the tables.
“It’s been really good. All the people here are happy and smiling. It’s really nice helping people,” said eighth grader Ariane Dias, of Rochester. She became interested in volunteering after hearing Brogioli’s presentation at the beginning of the school year. Dias also managed to coax many of her friends into helping out.
Student Council president Jack Gordon was also serving the guests.
“Most of the Student Council is here today,” he said. Gordon, a Boy Scout who is no stranger to community service, enjoyed the opportunity to spend time the senior citizens.
“Around here, you don’t get to see these people a lot. It’s good to be able to work with my classmates to help these people have a nice Thanksgiving,” said Gordon.
By Eric Tripoli