Sitting at a table in the center of TD Garden Tuesday, a 5-year-old boy waved a turkey-shaped balloon around as his mom, Kim Cook and the rest of their family enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal at TD Garden.
A volunteer came over and offered them slices of pie, which they happily accepted, especially Cook’s other child, who was still eating pasta with red sauce.
For Cook, who was homeless when she started coming to the event, it was a chance to the family of six to be together and give thanks.
“A nice meal and a smile goes a long way for people, especially those struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
Cook and her family were among 1,000 people who gathered for the 27th annual Table of Friends event. Over the course of two hours, volunteers served 800 pounds of turkey, 600 pounds of stuffing, 450 pounds of vegetables, 10 gallons of cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie that weighed in at an incredible 500 pounds.
As they entered the arena, guests were met with fall-themed balloons, holiday music, and cheerful volunteers. Servers cheerfully offered food and made conversation with the guests. Mayor Michelle Wu took a break from serving stuffing at least twice to take pictures with people at the gathering.
Madilyn Rodgers, 16, who volunteered alongside her two younger siblings, stood smiling as they waited for guests to arrive.
”We’re excited to do something nice for people,” she said.
As people began sitting down, the siblings split up to clear tables and deliver drinks and desserts.
Guests were invited to help themselves to seconds and given to-go containers to take some food with them.
While she was packing up some meatballs for later, Stephanie Solis, 45, said her meal was “delicious and wonderful.”
”It’s somewhere to come to get a warm Thanksgiving meal and TD Garden is a place to be all the time,” she said. “So I wanted to see it and I’m glad I did.”
One guest, who introduced himself as Ryan, made sure to thank people he passed by for putting on the event.
“It really warms your heart to see the community come together like this,” said Veronica Bernardo, catering sales manager at TD Garden who helped host the event. She was passing out condiments at the end of one of the food lines.
Speaking to reporters between rushes of people, Wu said it was rewarding to help people during the holidays.
“This is a very special time of year, but also quite stressful when times are hard,” she said.
Charlie Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North and the Boston Bruins, said “it’s great to be back” for the annual event. Of some 200 events TD Garden hosts, this is his favorite, he said. because people always leave with a smile.
“We had a nice meal,” a man named Thomas said. “But it’s more than just the meal.”