BOSTON, MA -- It's one of the TD Garden's biggest charitable initiatives of the year and the Boston Bruins staff was front and center as guests arrived on Causeway Street for the 17th Annual Table of Friends.
"It’s a fantastic event that the Garden does to help," said Boston Bruins President Cam Neely of the Garden Neighborhood Charities event. "The chefs put in a ton of work to this to get the amount of food that we’re going to serve today."
If that amount approached what the 16th annual Table of Friends distributed, we're taking about over 600 pounds of turkey, 700 pounds of stuffing, 25 gallons of gravy, 400 pounds of mashed potatoes, 200 pounds of carrots, 75 pounds of green beans, 106 dozen rolls and 8 gallons of cranberry sauce
Neely, joined by Boston Bruins alumni Johnny Bucyk (also the Bruins Road Services Coordinator), Rick Middleton (President of the Boston Bruins Alumni), Bob Sweeney (Boston Bruins Foundation Executive Director) and Don Sweeney (Assistant General Manager) as well as B's staffers Doug Houda (Assistant Coach), Don DelNegro (Athletic Trainer), John Whitesides (Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Matt Falconer (Assistant Equipment Manager), assisted the Garden staff to serve that traditional Thanksgiving-style meal to hundreds of guests from local shelters in the Greater Boston area.
"It's my first year involved," said Houda. "The TD Garden does such a great job setting this up.
"Obviously, there's tough times for different people," added the B's assistant and former NHL defenseman, "this is about giving back and helping out when we can."
"Helping out" remains the simple mission behind Table of Friends.
"For us, starting it 17 years ago, we wanted to make sure the Garden was a good neighbor in the city of Boston," said TD Garden President Amy Latimer. "We thought this is the perfect time, the holidays, and what great servers we have access to.
"So not only do people get to come in and on this championship floor get to have a meal, but to get stuffing from Cam Neely, or to meet [Boston Celtics alumnus] Jo Jo White is something that we can give back."
Asked why so many members of the Bruins staff and alumni gave of their time today, Neely's explanation was also simple.
"It’s extremely important in my opinion is, if you’re an athlete and you have an opportunity to give back, you should give back," said Neely. "Whatever thing you want to embrace, you should embrace it and help other people.
"We’re very fortunate to have an opportunity to do what we do for a living, and I think it’s an obligation more than anything to give back."