An early Thanksgiving for Boys & Girls Club in Bellport
The Community Room at the Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area resounded with a happy clamor last Wednesday. The guests were youngsters looking forward to a Thanksgiving dinner from the nonprofit organization.
“We cook the food,” said executive director Sibyl Mimi Wells of the fragrant side-dish smells wafting from their kitchen. “And BJ’s gave us a great price on the broiled rotisserie chickens.”
Kids like chickens better than turkeys, she said. Thus, the choice.
About 10 teens and preteens of Jack and Jill Foundation moms were serving the food. “They’ve adopted us and have served over the last three years,” Wells said.
The food, gift cards and other items being dispensed were possible thanks to the largesse of the community, board members, and Jack and Jill moms.
Jacque Crawford, who represented the Suffolk chapter of the Jack and Jill Foundation, brought her daughter Kendal, who went straight to a food station. Along with the chicken were corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread and cranberry sauce.
“We teach them as young as 2 years old to give back,” Crawford said. She was there with other Jack and Jill moms, including Mecca Baker, with daughter Manya Baker, and Neerja Jones, with son Will Jones. It was part of the teens’ community service commitment.
The Jack and Jill Foundation’s mission is addressing issues affecting African-American children and families, so they invest in life-enhancing programs and services. “Every month we meet in libraries, including the Patchogue-Medford Library,” Crawford said. “We have a relationship with this club that involves a lot of giving.” Along with other donations, the soft drinks and the desserts were on them.
Wells said local school districts were contacted.
“The majority come from South Country, but also Patchogue-Medford, Gordon Heights, Shirley and Mastic,” she said. “They come with a parent or guardian.”
A tree lighting was planned after the dinner. It used to be on Station Road by the gazebo on Brookhaven Avenue. “It was too dark and too cold, for one thing. Then we’d decorate and light it and the day after, lights and ornaments would be missing, so we have it here now,” Wells said.
Voila! Let there be light in the lobby!
Hats and socks and other items would be given out.
Board president Michael Mullaney was with his wife, Hwasoon. Mullaney is a Bellport resident; his family came here when he was five. As a property manager, he cares for 14 homes basically from sunup.
Then he comes to the club. “I do some administration and strategy,” he said. “Then I paint, patch a wall, straighten out a hinge.”
“He’s here every day,” interjected Wells, expanding Mullaney’s simple volunteer description.
From the looks of it, the children who came were digging into their food with gusto.
“It’s the most difficult time of year, especially now with funding and grants cut,” Wells said, looking over the group. “And still, you have key families that need us.”
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