PEMBROKE — About 150 senior citizens gathered for a free home-cooked Thanksgiving lunch at Pembroke Academy, which about 45 students prepped, cooked and served in the cafeteria on Nov. 23.
"I have been coming to this for years. It's a free meal. You don't have to do the work, and you can just sit down and enjoy your friends that you haven't seen for a while," said Pauline Boisvert.
The school's Key Club has sponsored the lunch for roughly the past 25 years.For Pauline Pfefferle, a graduate of Pembroke Academy's Class of 1949, the lunch is a chance to relive old memories. "This is the only time I come back here anymore, and I think it is nice. We as students didn't have an opportunity to do this, and the food is very good," Pfefferle said.
Connie Lafond, a graduate of the Class of 1951, said that while the lunch is good for seniors, it is also good for the students. "It shows kids the importance of giving back to the community. They seem to enjoy it, and we enjoy it, too," she said.
The meal requires the support of donations, but, Key Club adviser Stephanie Brasley said, the students organize, advertise, raise funds, prepare, cook, serve and clean up for the lunch almost completely by themselves. "The kids run everything," said Brasley, who called it the club's biggest event of the year.
Senior Taylor Bourgeois said she and her fellow students worked hard to get everything ready.
"All of this is homemade food. We peeled about 60 pounds of potatoes, cut up three bags of celery and carrots, and who knows how many turkeys we have. We got a lot of great donations," she said.
The buffet-style meal included turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, biscuits and an almost endless variety of desserts that tempted many seniors to test the weight limit of the paper plates they were using.
Nicole Pearl, a senior and Key Club president, said the students enjoy the lunch as much as their guests.
"This is our favorite event all year, and we love it because of the senior citizens. We also have a lot of new freshman participating this year, and it looks like they are really enjoying it," Pearl said.
Jared Bjornberg, a freshman, said he indeed was enjoying the experience.
"It's great to see the elderly people here and the smiles on their faces. This also serves as a great experience because it not only teaches us the value of courtesy, but that giving back to the community is a good thing," Bjornberg said.
Key Club is a service organization for teens that's supported by Kiwanis clubs. Starr Manus, of the local Kiwanis Club, said, "I have to tell you, I have never seen so many students in this age group work so well together. It's a great group of kids."