A Thanksgiving Tradition Continues in South Boston

By: Patrick Rosso
Source: Boston.com
Date: November 23, 2012
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In a true showing of South Boston spirit, hundreds of volunteers were up bright and early Thursday morning preparing a feast for the neighborhood’s less fortunate.

The annual Thanksgiving event, held in the basement of the St. Monica’s Church on Old Colony Avenue is now in its 32nd year. But it almost didn’t happen this year.

Frank Kelly, a parishioner of St. Monica, and Father Tom McDonald, had organized the event for the past 31 years. Kelly, however, announced a couple of weeks ago that the annual event wouldn’t be happening this year because of his battle with a number of health issues.

With the announcement, residents, community members, and elected officials rallied, collection donations and organizing volunteers to make sure no one would go hungry this Thanksgiving.

“We found out that the dinner wasn’t going to happen and we knew that that couldn’t happen,” said Tommy Butler, a local resident, who stepped up to coordinate the event. “People really rely on this, we did what we had to do to put this event on.”

Butler has been up every Thanksgiving morning since he was 5, helping serve food and pack up meals for those who can’t make it to the church.

“It was always that one day where the whole family came together to help out,” said Butler. “This is just as important for the volunteers as for the people who come out and eat.”

Close to 200 volunteers were serving up turkey with all the fixings Thursday, delivering the food to the local housing projects by foot and by car, making sure even those who can’t leave their homes or have nowhere to go get a hot meal and a smile.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for South Boston people to come together and provide a warm meal for those in need,” said Ed Flynn, 43, a local resident and volunteer. “This is what makes South Boston great.”

Nearly 400 local residents were served hot meals that afternoon, with 75 turkeys cooked and carved by local families.

“This is a landmark event in South Boston,” said John Healy, 66, a South Boston resident and volunteer. “You’ll see the same volunteers come back every year. This is always one of the best times of my life.”

Plenty of thanks were given by those receiving the meals and those who watched in awe as the volunteers diligently worked.

“You really don’t understand the work that goes into this event until you look behind the scenes,” said state Senator Jack Hart. “We are today and forever more going to be coming here to do what Frank Kelly has been doing for a long time.”

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