Andover girls soccer team preps turkey dinners for Merrimack Valley families

Andover girls soccer team preps turkey dinners for Merrimack Valley families

Members of the Andover girls soccer team gathered at a local temple Wednesday to put together turkey dinners for families impacted by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

After an anonymous donor provided money, the team had some fun as they prepared full meals with turkeys and all the side dishes for some families.

The team had a stellar season on the field, but one thing the girls aren't experienced at is making a turkey dinner.

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When asked how they found out how to cook a turkey, the girls had a simple answer: YouTube.

The team spent Wednesday night prepping turkeys to pop into the oven on Thanksgiving morning, all fresh and free for families who still don't have their gas service restored a couple months after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

"We were kind of inspired by a lot of our teammates and friends who were impacted by the gas explosions," junior varsity player Annabelle Chan said. "We saw that a lot of them wouldn’t be able to have a warm Thanksgiving meal and we wanted to contribute."

In September, the JV girls had just come off the field when an over-pressurized gas line triggered dozens of explosions and fires in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

"We had just ended our game and varsity just started theirs, and we saw like smoke sort of in the distance and we heard lots of sirens," JV player Valerie MacDonald said.

As the holidays approached and thousands of residents were still without working appliances, the team came up with a plan as Temple Emanuel donated their kitchen.

"Thanksgiving is a really important holiday," JV player Emma Azzi said. "For them not to be able to celebrate it just because they can’t cook in their own homes, it made me feel bad and made our team feel bad."

25 families from all three towns will receive the turkeys complete with all the fixings that coaches are helping prepare.

As these girls learn to cook, they're also finding out the recipe to a Thanksgiving dinner is a lot more than the ingredients.

It also has a little fun, and a lot of love.

"It’s just going to be so great to see that they’re happy and that they’re able to have a Thanksgiving meal and be with family on that day," MacDonald said.

The team spread the word about the turkeys on Facebook and through the local paper, and the 25 families who requested them are from all three towns.

The girls will head back first thing Thursday morning to put the turkeys in the oven and hand them out.