By Celina Colby

Thanksgiving will look a little different this year for many Brookline residents. As COVID-19 cases and restrictions increase, many families opt for safer, virtual gatherings for the holidays. In keeping with this shift, Brookline Rotary is hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner fundraiser to support local businesses, fight food insecurity, and keep cooking off your to-do list during this challenging time.

“There are many people who will not be gathering with their families this year because of COVID. So who’s going to go out and cook an eighteen-pound turkey for two people?” says Susan Rack, service chair of Brookline Rotary.

In partnership with VineRipe Grill, Rifrullo Café, and Drive-by Pies, Brookline Rotary is offering premade Thanksgiving Day meals for purchase. The main course, prepared by VineRipe Grille, is $25 per person and features turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry relish. Brookliners can also order rhubarb crisp for dessert provided by Rifrullo and pumpkin pie provided by Drive-by Pies. Part of the cost supports these local businesses, and the rest goes towards the Brookline Food Pantry. This fundraiser is the first of its kind held by the Rotary.

“We appreciate that it’s the local mom and pop shops that are the backbone not just of our economy but of our community,” says Rack. “We wanted to support our local businessesthis provides an option that’s also benefiting others.”

For those with food allergies or don’t want to purchase a Thanksgiving meal but would still like to contribute, there are several donation and volunteer options. You can make a monetary donation of any amount to the food pantry, purchase a Thanksgiving meal for a food pantry client or, volunteer the day before Thanksgiving to make sure everyone gets their meal in a contact-free manner.

Orders for food must be in by November 19. Meals will be picked up at VineRipe on November 25, 11 am-5 pm in a drive-through set up. For information on ordering meals, donating, and volunteering, visit the Brookline Rotary website.

Everyone wins in this fundraiser. Diners don’t need to worry about the laborious cooking or cleanup Thanksgiving usually brings; local businesses get an extra boost from the community, and food pantry clients have their holiday meals covered and delivered to them.

“Brookline is very rich in organizations that want to help and do good things,” says Rack. “We’re hoping that this unites us.”