Children's hospital celebrates Thanksgiving

November 25, 2011 7:45:06 AM PST
For Thanksgiving, our thoughts expand to the less fortunate and those that find themselves in places perhaps they'd rather not be during the holiday. There were dozens of Thanksgiving feasts at institutions that serve those communities.

And none more special than a place that is infused with the spirit of children.

The sounds of children excited are everywhere the moment you walk into the La Rabida Childrens Hospital, where clients and their families were treated to the season's delights by chefs with the American Association of Chefs. This is the 51st year the culinary organization has cooked and served the people who call this century-old institution home.

"I feel happy, very happy," said volunteer Oscar Pinera

For Chef Chaz Boydston, it is a natural outgrowth of his love of service.

"It is taking care of that person, whatever their needs are," he said. "They know that they're loved and appreciated when the rest of the civilized world can't even see them."

Ayah Zarrieff is an outpatient whose smile puts others at ease and her approach is a lesson to everyone. Asked what it's like to be in the hospital at Thanksgiving, she said, "It's great because you get to be with your friends. You get to have fun, and you also get to spend time with your family".

The hospital has been helping the children of Chicago's special needs community since 1896 and this year, in an environment of economic distress, serving the most vulnerable has extra meaning.

"It's enriching," Boydston said. "You love giving. We wouldn't be in this business if we didn't love serving."

The hospital's thanksgiving feast began in 1960 with a professional chef whose son was in the hospital fighting rheumatic fever. The dad wanted to be with his son and cooked up a feast, and that feast lives in spirit.

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