State Representative Carlo P. Basile says no one in Greater Boston has to go hungry this Thanksgiving, because he has opened up his annual free holiday dinner in East Boston to anyone who wants to attend.
“I don’t care where you come from,” Basile said by phone on Tuesday. “You come in that door, we’re feeding you.”
Basile said he was motivated to expand the invitation beyond just East Boston by the great need he saw.
Basile joked that he couldn’t remember whether this is the fifth or sixth feast he has hosted since he began shortly after his election to the State House in 2006. But over that time he has seen more and more people struggling financially who could not afford a holiday meal, he said.
“I definitely say there’s a greater need. I have folks that I’ll be bringing food to that are too embarrassed to come down,” he said. “It’s more now than ever.”
Volunteers will deliver meals to many who are unable or unwilling to come to the dinner at the Sacred Heart Parish in East Boston, and Basile will supply frozen turkeys to about 30 families who want to cook a dinner at home. Basile’s whole family gets involved, he said, from his two young sons to his mother, who stores the frozen turkeys and helps distribute them.
The dinner draws many volunteers from the community who spend their holiday serving others, and it has financial support from local donors and the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Those who come for the meal, Basile said, represent a broad cross-section of the diverse East Boston neighborhood and include both longtime residents and more recent immigrants.
Basile said one of his goals in hosting the dinner is to give people a way to share the holiday with others.
“For me it’s important that we get to feed everybody, and I like to sit down with them … so they don’t eat alone,” he said. “We do what we can to make it as normal as possible for these folks.”
Basile said hosting the annual event has given him a greater sense of how many in the community are struggling and suffering. At last year’s dinner, Basile said, he spoke with a young woman who had been forced out of her home by an abusive husband, along with the couple’s children.
“Us lucky ones go on with everyday life and don’t really know what’s going on out there,” he said.
Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, at the Sacred Heart Church, 303 Paris St. in East Boston. Dinner will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Transportation to the church and meal delivery are available by calling Celeste Myers at 617-913-3332 or Nancy Loconte at 617-438-5539.