With a Thanksgiving dinner planned for 5 p.m. Nov. 21 and Christmas adoptions underway, the Boys and Girls Club of Bowling Green is working toward giving club members a memorable holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is a long-standing tradition ... ,” Boys and Girls Club CEO Liz Bernard said. “I always say Christmas is my favorite, but Thanksgiving is right there with it. I think there is something so special with sharing a meal together.

“We are on the serving side of things and our staff and our board serve the meal. If kids don’t have family members that come with them, our staff will sit with them. It is just really special to be able to break bread together. To me, that is a grand gesture of caring and love.”

Bernard said Cambridge Market and Cafe assists with the meal.

“It is a true Thanksgiving feast,” she said.

Along with Thanksgiving, the club is “adopting out” their club members for Christmas.

“We adopt around 250 kids ages 6 to 18, and what we do is just put out the information that community members, businesses civic groups, church groups can go out and adopt the children,” Bernard said. “The kids fill out forms and it has all of their clothing sizes, favorite colors, sports teams, favorite candies and things like that, and they can put three Christmas wishes on there as well.

“We do a huge party here and each child gets a huge bag full of their toys with their name on it ... ,” Bernard said. “It’s the favorite tradition among the kids, staff and community members. We have people that will call in September looking for kids to adopt. It sticks with people.”

Bernard said shopping decisions are up to the sponsors.

“Sometimes people like to do their own shopping. Sometimes people will come in and make a financial contribution. They are not limited to how many they can help out,” she said.

Unit Director Abbey Kitchens said the kids’ gift wishes have evolved over the years.

“It depends on the trends,” Kitchens said. “Girls will ask for baby dolls or Barbie dolls. It seems with the boys they want more sports equipment. Whatever they’re seeing on TV is what they’re asking for.”

The gift opening is set for 4 p.m. Dec. 19.

The club also is working on mailing letters for its annual Back a Child fundraising campaign, which features the stories of club members in mailed materials.

“We are a nonprofit, so 100 percent of our operating expenses are through donations and grants,” Bernard said. “What the community gives us is extremely important to continue in our mission. We send out about 8,000 letters. We just encourage everyone to donate if they can. Pennies make dollars. We have someone who sends a $5 check every year, and that is just as meaningful as the $5,000 check.”

– For more information on adopting club members or donating, call 270-843-6466.

– Follow Daily News reporter Will Whaley on Twitter @Will_Whaley_ or visit bgdailynews.com.

News reporter for the Bowling Green Daily News.

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