Amidst Thanks, Giving Options Away from the Table

It's a week before Thanksgiving, but all through the 'hood, there's a sensation that Christmas is already afoot.

The holiday season will be officially unfurled next Saturday Nov. 27, as nine Dorchester villages join in a now annual rite of late fall: the Light and Unite trolley tour, in which holiday trees will be "turned on" in a four-hour burst of carols and cheer. The event, organized by a committee of neighbors in conjunction with Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office, will hit village squares from Columbia Point to Lower Mills (see page two for a full schedule). Along with Hizzoner the mayor, tree lighting guests can also expect a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will bring along gifts for children along the route.

This weekend sees a unique pre-Thanksgiving event at Pope John Paul II Park in Neponset: a 5k "Turkey Trot" along the Neponset aimed at boosting support for the 72-acre waterfront park and nearby Greenway trail. Sponsored by the Boston Natural Area Network, the run will start and end at Pope Park, following a course down the trail to Milton and back. The first-time event, billed as a good way to make room for holiday feasting later in the week, starts at the park's Gallivan Boulevard parking lot at 10 a.m. Participants receive a BNAN T-shirt and refreshments in exchange for a $12 registration fee. Runners of all ages are invited to register early by calling 617-542-7696 or sending an email to beth@bostonnatural.org.

Elder Dorchesterites will begin their celebrations even earlier this year, with a holiday bazaar at the Madden Senior Center in Fields Corner set for this Friday Nov. 19. The afternoon event will feature baked goods, raffles, toys, books, crafts and collectibles. It starts at 1 p.m at 1500 Dorchester Ave.

On Thanksgiving Day, Kit Clark Senior Services is again sponsoring a free Thanksgiving Dinner for seniors at their 1500 Dorchester Avenue location. This will be the second year that Kit Clark is sponsoring the dinner for seniors and is also part of the agency's year-long 30th anniversary celebration.

"Many seniors don't have anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with so our dinner gives them a very delicious, nutritious meal and the friendly company of other seniors in the community," said Sandra Albright, Kit Clark's Executive Director. "We will be providing good food in a festive environment with plenty of good cheer and camaraderie."

The dinner will begin at noon on Thanksgiving Day and will feature the traditional turkey with all of the trimmings. There is no cost to attend the dinner and the only thing that seniors are encouraged to bring is their appetites.

Reservations for the dinner will be on a first come, first served basis and Kit Clark will be taking reservations through Friday, November 19th. Seats must be reserved in person at Kit Clark's Madden Senior Center located at 1500 Dorchester Avenue directly across from the Fields Corner T station.

For more information on either the Thanksgiving Dinner or the holiday bazaar, call Betty Cikacz or Maureen Connors at Kit Clark Senior Services at 617- 825-5000.

Unity Sports and Cultural Association on Dunbar Avenue near Codman Square will host its annual Faustin Cox Senior Citizens Thanksgiving luncheon this Sunday, November 21 from 12 to 3 p.m. Transportation is provided to registrants of the free event, which honors the memory of Unity member, Faustin Cox. Well over 250 guests typically attend the event. Those who wish to participate make a donation should contact Paul Lewis at 617-541-4155.

Toy drives, mounted each year by various local charities, are also underway. On Thursday evening, the Friends of Children organization will sponsor a fundraiser, honoring

Attorney James Morris and Festus Joyce. The event will be held Thursday evening at the IBEW Hall on Freeport Street.

And on Saturday, Dec. 4, Fields Corner activist Tom Gannon will host his annual toy drive to benefit the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club. This year, Gannon and friends will gather at the Bayside Office Center's Arlington room (150 Mt. Vernon Street) at 7 p.m. A psychic reader will be on hand to predict who will get coal in their stockings this year.

"The only thing we require is that people show up with a toy," says Gannon, who says close to 200 people obliged that request last year. "Or, they can bring a tax deductible donation, all of which goes to support the kids at the club."