TOWNSEND -- For the 13th year in a row, Mark Lynch of Ashby cooked Thanksgiving dinner for more than 200 Townsend seniors. On Nov. 19, Lynch was in the kitchen of the Townsend Senior Center, preparing every trimming for a full, fresh turkey dinner for the annual Senior Center Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsored by the Friends of the Townsend Senior Center.

Lynch, who formerly owned his own catering company and taught culinary arts for 18 years at a special needs collaborative center in Gardner, was inspired by his mother to begin the annual Thanksgiving dinner over a decade ago.

The purpose of the dinner, Lynch said, is simple: "My goal is for every senior to get a meal."

And that goes beyond attendees to the people who can't make it out to the dinner. Lynch also provides meals to shut-ins, serving anywhere between 60 and 90 resident seniors in their homes.

Although Lynch does most of the cooking, which he says can take up to 100 pounds of potatoes, he has dozens upon dozens of volunteer hands to assist.

"We encourage everybody to participate and volunteer. Sometimes we have whole families come out to deliver meals," Lynch said. "Some people work in the kitchen and serve meals. Some people work on the cleanup crews and stuff like that. When everybody does a little bit, it all gets done."

Lynch also receives annual assistance in the form of donations and helping hands from several businesses and organizations. Gary's Farm Stand, for one, donates fresh vegetables every year.


The local Boy Scouts and the North Middlesex National Honor Society, among others, help to serve dinner.

Lynch also organizes a similar Thanksgiving dinner every year in Groton at Gibbet Hill Grill. He likes to fashion the community events off of the children's book "Stone Soup."

"Everyone brings something to the table. It doesn't have to be a lot, it can be a little bit," he said. "It's a big social event now and they all look forward to it," Lynch said.