FAIRLESS HILLS >> More than 130 seniors, many of them dressed in Christmas red and green, sat down to a free holiday dinner with all the trimmings on Friday evening, Dec. 13 at Pennsbury High School West’s Falcon Cafeteria.
Whipped up by The Nutrition Group, the district’s food service provider, the 22nd Annual Pennsbury Community Holiday Dinner was organized and served by members of the school’s Interact Club led by PHS teacher Breanne Cook with help from the high school’s boys track and field team.
In addition, the high school’s Family Consumer Science classes provided an assortment of decorated cakes, which were given away as door prizes during the event.
As a mouthwatering aroma filled the air, students served their special guests a traditional holiday feast featuring turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and all the trimmings.
While they enjoyed the holiday dinner, the seniors were treated to music by the Pennsbury Strings, which performed holiday instrumental classics; the PHS Dance Team, which kicked up its heels with a holiday performance; and the Pennsbury Choral Ensemble, which serenaded with Christmas carols.
This is the eighth year the Rotary-sponsored Interact Club has hosted the dinner, which is held to bring the generations together during the holiday season and to put into action the club’s motto of “Service Above Self.”
Interact advisor Breanne Cook enjoyed seeing the seniors having a good time and watching the interaction develop throughout the dinner between her students and the local seniors.
“I love this,” said Cook. “It’s awesome to see all the seniors come together and to see how excited they get to come out and have a good meal and enjoy the students perform.
“Our goal as a club is to do community service so this was a natural fit for us,” said Cook. “(Assistant Principal) Mr. Richard Fry approached me when I took over the Interact Club and said this would be a great opportunity for us. It’s been perfect,” she said. “The kids get to interact with a segment of the community they don’t often get to interact with, providing good food and entertainment during the holiday season,” said Cook. “And the seniors really appreciate it.”
Seniors from five local centers were invited to attend this year’s dinner, the largest contingent coming from the Falls Township Senior Center. They also attended from Galilee Village, Grundy Gardens, LaMont Plaza and MacIntosh Regency.
“I hope they see how much the seniors enjoy this,” Cook said of the students. “And that it inspires them to do more with everyone in the community, not just their age and not just seniors, but everyone they encounter.”
As for the seniors, she hopes they enjoyed the meal, the music, the dance and the opportunity to interact with the younger generation.
“It’s always awesome to see the thank you notes that we receive afterwards,” said Cook. “It’s nice to see that we made a difference in someone’s life.”
Among the guests were Levittown-Fairless Hills Rotary Club President Jack O’Connor and his wife Mary Ellen of Yardley. This is the second year they have attended in support of the Interact Club.
“The dinner is outstanding,” said Jack. “They do a tremendous job with the food, the service. The entertainment is unbelievable. Everything is just fantastic. I love it,” he said.
“I think this is wonderful. The kids are learning to give back to society, which is very important to do,” said O’Connor. “It’s always been important in my life. I know it’s going to benefit them by giving back.”
And he adds, “This really puts you in the spirit of the season.”
Stopping by to show his support was Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Gretzula.
“This is always a great event,” he said. “What I love about Interact and the Rotary is their mantra of service above self. That message for our youth is really powerful. And what I especially love about this activity is that intergenerational connection.”
The Pennsbury High School Interact Club is sponsored by the Levittown-you’ll Fairless Hills Rotary Club. Its mission is to bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self, Rotary’s official motto.
The dinner was made possible by donations and support from The Nutrition Group, the Pennsbury Education Association, Chick-Fil-A, Levittown-Fairless Hills Rotary Club, the PHS custodial staff, Brown’s Shop Rite of Fairless Hills, Milt Moser and Mary Ann Pazden, Laura and Rocco Carnevale, John Paul Brennan, Jack and Mary Ellen O’Connor. Dr. Gina Genin, Dr. Luigi and Barbara Desantis and Heather and Dave Towne.