Dozens of volunteers dressed in plastic aprons weaved in and out between tables during the Rescue Mission’s annual Thanksgiving feast Wednesday afternoon.
Some are graduates of the program and others were simply doing a good deed to spread holiday cheer. Among those serving up turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie were three members of Boy Scout Troop 26.
“I feel like it’s a really good opportunity to meet other people from the Santa Barbara community,” said Henri Benoit, 14, a student a Bishop Diego High School. “I like to be able to spread the joy of the holidays to people. Everybody gets a good, hot meal and it’s nice to make someone’s day a little bit better – to put a smile on someone’s face. It makes me feel good about what I’m doing and I like to make people happy. Some of these people go through very hard times, so anything we can do to make them happier.”
Henri helped out during the feast a year ago and said he has been looking forward to returning ever since.
“You make a personal connection with the people,” he said. “Some of the people were Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts and they notice the uniform and talk about it. It’s just a nice opportunity to make someone’s day a little better.”
Joining him was Kellen Tressler, a 16-year-old who attends Dos Pueblos High.
“I’m really glad to help everyone here,” said Kellen. “I’ve been a Boy Scout since I was in kindergarten and I’m really glad that I can come out in the community.
“I just like interacting with people from all different walks of life,” he explained. “It’s not something you’d normally do. You walk through the streets and you don’t really talk to people, you just go by. But here, you have something in common. You’re either eating of helping people get what they want. It’s good volunteer hours.”
Both Henri and Kellen said the love seeing the recipients smile as they break bread with one another.
“That’s why I do it,” Kellen said.
The Boy Scouts have been making pies for the annual meal for the past 10 years or so. The group tried their hand at pumpkin pie this year, whipping up a total of 20 pies for all to enjoy.
Assistant Scoutmaster Trey Pinner was helping out the scouts as they went table to table, grabbing to-go boxes or bringing another serving of the fixings.
“Their upbringing as a scout is learning to do a good-turn daily,” Mr. Pinner told the News-Press. “It’s just another opportunity for them to do something good for the community. Everyone here that serves, they’re trying to give back to people that don’t have as much. It makes you grateful and it makes you thankful.”
Mr. Pinner has been leading the scouts for about 15 years and said he always enjoys the chance to make an impact in the community.
“I always tell folks that I get more out of it than I put into it,” he said. “I just get a good feeling helping them out.”
The troop does several other services projects throughout the community. They do trail maintenance and canned food drives, and earlier this year they repainted the hallways of Peabody Elementary School. While it’s never difficult to get the boys to buy in, Mr. Pinner said Wednesday’s event is one they all enjoy.
“The difficulty is that they have a limited number of people who can serve, so I actually have to have kids put their name in a hat and I have to pick the names,” Mr. Pinner said. “They all want to do it, but I can only have three scouts come. I picked out the lucky ones today.
“They feel that this is a privilege,” he explained. “They learn it’s important to give back to the community and that’s one of the biggest things about scouting.
“It gives them a connection.”