BENTON HARBOR — Jeremyh Griffin helped pass out centerpieces and stood at the front of the serving table in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor gymnasium and waited patiently for what came next.
The 9-year-old, along with 170 others, were treated to a Thanksgiving meal Wednesday night as part of Maytag’s Day of Dependability.
“I’m thankful,” Jeremyh said while he repeatedly glanced at the back table covered in food. “You’re meant to have fun for Thanksgiving.”
About 30 Maytag and Whirlpool Corp. volunteers were on hand for Wednesday night’s festivities.
Allison Gillespie, senior brand manager of Maytag, said on an annual basis, about 6,000 Whirlpool employees work with several Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S.
Gillespie said they do three Days of Dependability a year with the local Boys & Girls Club.
They normally do a Halloween event each year, but the timing didn’t work out this year.
“We were thinking about the season and dependability, so we thought what better way to show these kids they’re cared for than a Thanksgiving dinner?” Gillespie said. “We just want to make them feel special. Just seeing their faces light up has been great.”
Children packed the gym that was temporarily being used as a large lunchroom.
After a brief discussion on the meaning of Thanksgiving, the kids rushed to form a line – pausing to dance to Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road.”
Maytag first teamed up with Boys & Girls Club of America in 2010 to demonstrate a commitment to youth and communities.
To date, Maytag has donated more than $8.4 million to help young people most in need.
The partnership was extended on a local level with Day of Dependability events with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor.
Courtney Webb, unit director at the club, said the event is different from their usual games and team-building exercises.
“This time around we chose to do something a bit more impactful,” she said.
With the change to the fall Day of Dependability, the Maytag brand team referred to Wednesday’s communal dinner as “Seasons of the Heart.” The food was provided through Whirlpool’s catering service that handles a lot of the appliance maker’s events.
Webb said the dinner was a couple months in the making.
She said her favorite part was seeing the kids react to the visitors – and the food.
“When you see their faces, you know it’s a big deal,” Webb said. “We’re a family to them. A lot of them look to us for support and love and we want to always give that to them.”
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