Staff Photo: John Bohn Olive Garden employee Andres Augusto Romero Moreno plays music on his accordian while an Italian style lunch from Olive Garden is served at the Buford Senior Center Thursday.
BUFORD -- Thursday morning was ticking away just like any other day at the Buford Senior Center. People were playing cards, shooting pool and tossing bean bags during a game cornhole. That is, all was the same until lunchtime when the Mall of Georgia Olive Garden and Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club showed up to brighten the senior citizens' day.
"It really is nice to do this for us," said Peggy Cody of Buford, who frequents the center. "They have some groups come in and it's really a lot of fun because you have the old and the young that come together."
Before the teens arrived, Olive Garden pulled up to the center with a small army of volunteers and an accordion player led by the Community Outreach Program leader Winston Johnson. He and his group have been working with the Buford Center for three years bringing the Boys & Girls Club with them when possible.
"I like the younger crowd to be with the seniors so they can get some wisdom from them -- to talk about life," Johnson said. "They're young and don't know things, so I thought that this is something that would help them. They love coming out here to help. We're all people of the community, so why not help each other?"
For entertainment, Andres Augusto Romero Moreno of Olive Garden played his accordion while the servers passed out a three-course meal to the seniors, which included salad, bread sticks, spaghetti, lasagna and tiramisu.
"I think it's wonderful," Cody said. "I've only been here for a year and we have so much fun here -- it's unbelievable."
In the middle of the meal, the group from the Boys & Girls Club with more than 25 teens piled into the dining room and made themselves at home with the patrons who were eating. They made friends with the seniors and talked to them over lunch.
"It's fun to hear what they have to say," said Francine Winfrey, who was with the club. "They ask us about the club, we ask them about what they do and it's interesting to hear about their past."
After everyone finished eating, the fun continued. A group of girls led a step routine for the crowd, which Rosa Roberts Huston and Ethel Gore of Buford tried to imitate afterwards.
The group also held a hula hoop contest and danced the afternoon away to the "Cha Cha Slide."
The teens enjoy volunteering in the community, especially at the center according to one of the Boys and Girls Club's leaders.
"We come to events like this because people give to us and this is our way of giving back," Team Developer Nathaniel Knight said. "These kids right here, they love being at the club and this is how they give back. We said we were coming here and hands flew up to join. They are on point when it comes to volunteering. They love it -- I love it."