Elks Lodge readies for free Thanksgiving dinner
The Cape Coral Elks Lodge 2596 will host its second annual free Thanksgiving dinner for all those in need on Thursday.
Elks Lodge member Jim Purin said he began the dinner last year to help those in need.
“This is my baby from the start last year,” he said, adding that last year he told everyone that he wanted it to become an annual event. “This is really what the Elks is all about, helping people, so I am pretty happy about it.”
Purin said he choose the Elks Lodge to devote his retirement to by helping the needy in the community through the lodge.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be held from noon-4 p.m. at the Cape Elks Lodge in Club Square, located at 4631 S.E. 10th Place.
“Needy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are broke and need a meal,” Purin said. “Someone who is single and 85 years old that has no one to spend the holiday with, that is just enough of a need as someone who doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger.
“There are all kinds of needs, no one will be turned away,” he said. “If they feel they need to come here, they are welcome to because I will say no to no one.”
Purin said everything that will be served during the dinner is top shelf quality and will be prepared home-style like the way he has cooked Thanksgiving dinner in his house for 34 years.
Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string bean casserole, corn, deserts, coffee, soft drinks and milk will be some of what will be served.
“I am pretty proud of my dressing,” he said.
This year, Purin said they have updated the event by adding a couple other things due to the number of people out there who are in need.
The Elks Lodge will give away free blankets, bed linens, clothes, dry goods, canned goods and candy on a first-come first-served basis due to a limited supply.
Last year’s dinner was a huge success, Purin said. They served 525 people and cooked 50 turkeys along with everything that goes along with a Thanksgiving dinner.
He said 125 of the people they served last year were volunteers that would have been fed anyway. The Elks Lodge had 400 individuals walk through the door for dinner.
Out of the 400 that walked through the door, 79 of them were veterans, 39 were homeless veterans and 29 of them were female veterans, Purin said.
“That is about a 25 percentile of veterans that came though our doors to eat,” he said.
Not one piece of food was wasted. Any food that was left over was donated to a local church, which used everything, Purin said about last year’s event, which will be duplicated this year.
“I can’t emphasize enough the volunteers that help,” he said. “Everyone is so giving, I have had people who have donated 10 cents and people who have donated $100.
“Thank you for all those who have donated,” Purin said. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart, this is really close to me.”
He said they are still in need of turkeys or cash. Those who wish to donate can drop off turkeys or cash at the lodge.
“Hopefully, it will be as successful as it was last year,” Purin said.