The Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) ensured that hundreds of families in Dorchester and surrounding communities ate well on Thanksgiving, thanks to the generosity of the Milton restaurant Steel & Rye which delivered more than 100 cooked Thanksgiving dinners to local families while others in need received the birds to prepare themselves.
“Because we have so many generous donors, we’re able to help more families than we probably ever have before, and in different ways,” said Mary Kinsella, senior vice president of Education & Programming at BGCD.
“For some families, the uncooked turkey, and the process of gathering as a family and preparing a dinner together, is really cool. For a lot of our parents who may have been working, but still wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and have a special meal together, [the dinners prepared by the chefs at Steel & Rye] mean a lot to them.”
Recipients are selected by the staff at the Boys & Girls Club each year. According to Kinsella, most of them come from informal conversations in the pickup line as sometimes families will refer friends. Above all, Kinsella emphasized, the deliveries are a community-based event where everybody pitches in.
“Families that came to pick up turkeys were able to deliver to families that didn’t have transportation,” she said.
The partnership with Steel & Rye began last year during the pandemic. Dan Kerrigan, the owner of Steel & Rye, is a friend of Bob Scannell, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, and Kinsella. Scannell’s brothers are part owners of the restaurant.
Said Kinsella: “They stepped up in outstanding ways during the pandemic for so many families in need, and they’ve been a great partner to us. It has just kind of grown over time. People support the restaurant, and that allows Dan to support us.
“In particular, two of Dan’s friends, Kate and Graham Foster, reached out to make sure that everyone had more than enough, and they did that again this year. They did monetary donations and helped deliver the meals for us.”
Kinsella especially appreciated the contributions of the Foster children, both under six. “Their girls were excited to help. They made a really sweet card or piece of artwork for each box. The whole family was a part of it.” The Boston Police Department and individual donors also contributed to the effort.
After a tough year, Kinsella was happy to spread holiday cheer.
“The holidays can be really stressful and hard for so many families, and we have to remember that. People don’t talk about it. When people feel supported and feel like they’re part of something bigger, it feels good. Thanksgiving means something different for every family, but overall it means the opportunity to come together and celebrate.”