Every year, the Junior League of Reading puts on a Thanksgiving dinner for kids at the Olivet Boys & Girls Club, and every year it’s not clear who enjoys it more – the kids or the adults.
At the club’s Oakbrook location Thursday night, about 150 youngsters, ages 7 to 13, decorated pumpkins, made their own silly putty and created other crafts. Then, they watched a magician before diving into an early Thanksgiving meal.
“It’s one of our most popular events of the year that everybody likes to do,” said Laura Waetjen, Junior League president. “It’s really all hands on deck. Every member does something.”
This is the ninth year the organization has put on the event and it continues to grow, according to Waetjen. Including parents, about 175 people attended Thursday.
Marissa Banks, co-chairwoman of the league’s new member committee, said it’s a good way for the organization to connect with local children and ties into the league mission to empower youths to become leaders in their community.
Casey Trexler, co-chairwoman of community development for the league, said Thursday’s event went phenomenally.
She especially enjoyed seeing the reactions of the kids.
“I just think it’s extremely fulfilling and heartwarming to see the glow on kids faces, the excitement, just the pure enjoyment,” Trexler said.
For Amanda Spencer, the other co-chairwoman of community development, it’s one of her favorite events that the organization does.
“It’s just completely awesome,” she said. “For me, this is always what feels like the kickoff to the holiday season.”
Olivet appreciates the effort put in by the league.
Milton Munroe, club director, said he gauges everything based on the reaction of the kids and the excitement this year was no different than it has been in the past.
Plus, parent participation has increased. Munroe said that he’s meeting new parents, which he called a “great” thing.
Events like these are also a teaching moment for him and the kids.
“One of the things I love about it is they understand there’s a lot of people out there willing to provide a service for them,” Munroe said. “They’re not alone. There are people that care about them.”