Smiling children poured through the doors of On the Square Tuesday evening dressed in their best attire. The children were members of the Boys & Girls Club who had been invited to an exclusive Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant.
“I think it’s a wonderful exposure opportunity, to be out with your friends at a nice restaurant,” said Gregory Spence, program assistant with the Boys & Girls Club. “I think it’s something they’ll never forget.”
The ear-to-ear grins on the children’s faces were evidence that they had been looking forward to the dinner all day.
“They hurried up and did their homework and everybody stayed on their best behavior,” Spence said.
“We’re excited about all the nice food that they’re prepared to us,” said Tashica Hinton, Princeville Unit Director for the Boys & Girls Club, as she surveyed the food on the buffet. “The families get to come and sit down and have a nice dinner with their kids.”
Each member had the chance to invite two family members to the dinner. Shavetta Speight, mother of 11-year-old Jacques Shields, said the yams, a local treat, were the best part of the meal.
“It was nice,” she said. “I didn’t have to cook tonight.”
Among the other offerings were organic North Carolina turkey, local field greens and homemade cranberry sauce. Stephen Ribustello, who co-owns On the Square with his wife Inez, said Keihin Carolina Systems Technologies and the U.S. Food Service also donated to the dinner.
“I like doing things for the children, in particular, ones that we know,” Ribustello said. This is not the first time the restaurant has hosted a special Thanksgiving dinner for the club.
Spence said the club’s mission is to expose children to opportunities they might not be able to experience otherwise. The club has frequent educational and cultural outings for the children, and their parents, as well.
“It’s nice, everybody being able to come together,” said Sheila Cook, who attended the Thanksgiving dinner with her sons, 5-year-old Jeremiah Sellers and 9-year-old Elijah Sellers. For her boys, she said the club “helps build their character.”
Speight recalled the time the Boys & Girls Club took her out to eat for Mother’s Day. A working mother, Speight said she knows her son is in good hands after school at the Boys & Girls Club.
“It teaches him how to be responsible. It teaches him good manners, how to be respectful,” she said.