Foxboro Regional Charter School was a hubbub of activity on Saturday during the 24th annual Turkey Brigade, as hundreds of area residents gave back to the people of the community who would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner.
The event, presented by Personal Best Karate, is assisting 3,360 needy area families in 33 towns, from Attleboro to Stoughton and New Bedford.
Over 40 local agencies, such as the Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative, the Literacy Center, food pantries from nine towns and over half a dozen churches, aided in the efforts of the community and Personal Best Karate.
During the popular event, thousands of aluminum cooking pans are filled with non-perishable goods such as canned vegetables, mashed potato mixes and stuffing, which are stacked in different areas in the gymnasium.
Once the full trays are wrapped in plastic by volunteers at one of a dozen tables, the trays are literally rushed across the room to be grouped against the bleachers.
The hectic, rapid-fire pace of running the wrapped cooking pans to be stacked five-rows wide, 50 trays-long and three-trays high becomes an adrenaline rush to all those involved.
Within 30 minutes, the line of completed trays totaled 1,000.
One volunteer, Chris Sellinger of Medfield, was pouring sweat as he stacked pan after pan from eager participants, who then rushed to get back in line to start the brigade all over again.
The line began in the school’s parking lot, went in through a side door in the cafeteria, and wound through the hallways into the gym.
Sellinger and fellow volunteer, Raoul Manchand of Medfield, were at one end of the gym stacking the plastic-wrapped pans, meeting in the middle with three other volunteers, Mike Townsend of Foxboro, Dan Anderson of Easton, and Todd Rego, whose wife Donna is the chairwoman of the event.
“It’s harder than I thought,” Sellinger admitted as he arranged the cooking pans with Manchand. “But it’s awesome. It’s a great community project.”
Crouching on the floor to arrange the pans was Townsend, as Rego and Anderson passed along the completed trays, all the while dodging the excited participants, many of whom were children.
“What I like about this event as a whole is it’s a way for parents to help get their kids involved in helping others — (the parents) want to show their kids how to do good things in the world, and this is a good way to help them see it,” Anderson said.
Among those children was 9-year-old Julianna Smith of East Bridgewater who was accompanied by her mother Alison.
“It’s fun going around and getting all the food,” Julianna said.
It was the first time the two had come to the event, having been told about it by their co-worker, six-year veteran Jason Smith of Bridgewater.
The co-workers agreed the event was well-organized, with Jason Smith adding, “It goes quickly, so you see a little bit of effort makes a big result.”
The packaged trays, along with donated turkeys from the local supermarkets, were to be delivered on Sunday.