Volunteers work to assemble Thanksgiving meals for those in need at Catholic Charities' Yawkey Center in Dorchester, Nov. 19. Pilot photo/Jacqueline Tetrault
DORCHESTER -- In collaboration with United Way's annual Thanksgiving Project, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston distributed meal kits on Nov. 19, providing thousands of families with supplies to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
They gave out turkeys, or gift cards to purchase turkeys, and bags of fresh produce and other Thanksgiving fixings to approximately 4,200 families. In all, an estimated 20,000 meal kits were distributed over 25 sites, including six Catholic Charities locations across the Boston area.
The largest of these sites was the Yawkey Center in Dorchester, where volunteers worked in shifts the previous day to assemble bags of food. Among the volunteers were students from Boston College and other nearby schools, as well as members of St. Cecilia Parish and Holy Name Parish. Kevin M. MacKenzie, CEO and president of Catholic Charities, and Beth Chambers, director of basic needs, were also on hand, along with members of Catholic Charities' board.
Lily Rodriguez was one of several Boston College students who helped to assemble the meal kits. She and about 25 other volunteers are members of the school's Fulton Leadership Society.
"Community service is one of our pillars, so we try to get involved in Catholic Charities," she said while taking a break during the afternoon volunteer shift.
Chambers described the situations of the families they serve, saying they are "really struggling to keep up with rising costs."
"We are giving out more food than we ever have had to before in order to meet the growing need. We're seeing people who are working two, sometimes three jobs and still can't afford to buy groceries on top of paying their bills or putting gas in their cars," Chambers said.
MacKenzie also spoke about the rise in food insecurity earlier this month.
"Food insecurity is a reality for a growing number of families and we're seeing more and more working families who need help as the price of groceries continues to rise due to inflation," he said.
MacKenzie said they are "grateful to partner with United Way to help alleviate the financial burden that so many within our communities are facing."
Information about Catholic Charities' basic needs services is available at www.ccab.org/basic-needs. Opportunities to donate or volunteer can be found at www.ccab.org/ways-to-give.