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Free meals, food drives & donations help make sure no one spends holiday alone, or hungry

By Staff | Nov 21, 2009

Because it may be difficult for some Cape Coral families to afford a Thanksgiving dinner, and because many individuals may be facing the holiday alone, some organizations and restaurants are offering free or discounted meals to the public.
Although the holidays can often be a difficult time of the year with all of the expenses of food, presents and travel, more people than ever are struggling because of the poor economy.
The Cape Coral Elks Lodge and Paradise Tiki Hut will offer free meals on Thanksgiving day.
Jim Purin, leading knight at the Cape Coral lodge, said traditional meals are available from noon to 4 p.m. For years the Elks cooked the turkeys in concert with another organization that gave out meals on Thanksgiving, but Purin said when their partner had to end the program they decided to take everything over.
“It is the same dinner we had last year. Everything has been donated, work is done by volunteers,” said Purin. “The Elks Lodge has been kind enough to donate the facility.”
Last year the lodge had 520 people show up for the meal, including 375 walk-ins, 79 veterans, 39 homeless persons and 29 women. It’s located on 4631 SE 10th Place.
Local resident Linda Merced collected bed linens, blankets, pillows, clothing and other goods for people in need.
The Paradise Tiki Hut on 1502 Miramar Street will also provide free Thanksgiving meals from 1-6 p.m. and is sponsored by The Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
General Manager Cindy Roepke said this is the first year the Tiki Hut will offer the dinner under her management. She took it over approximately one year ago.
“Through this ownership this will be our first time,” said Roepke. “It has been a tradition for the Paradise Tiki Hut in town for 20 years. It is going to be traditional fair.”
Roepke was told to expect about 500 people on Thanksgiving Day.
“People who don’t have families or who don’t have the means or anyone to eat with,” she said.
There will also be live entertainment from local band Angie and the Perfect Gentleman.
Other restaurants are providing discount meals for those who don’t feel like making their own meal or can’t afford it.
“What we are going to do is that because of the economy we are going to offer a full turkey dinner,” said Al Whalen, owner of the Moorings Restaurant.
The restaurant will serve a Thanksgiving Dinner two for $10 from noon to 7 p.m., and if they bring a neighbor or friend who can’t afford it, Whalen said the restaurant would cover half the charge. The Moorings is located at 1326 S.E. 16th Place.
“We are the oldest running restaurant in the Cape Coral,” he said. “We know these people and we’ve been here a long time. Thanksgiving is a time to contemplate some of the good things you have left.”
The Leapin’ Lizard on 1719 Cape Coral Parkway East will have a turkey dinner for $12.99. At the same time there will be a Kiwanis Food Drive for the needy. Thanksgiving there will run from 2-10 p.m. on Thursday and High Tide will perform live.
Leapin’ Lizard will host a Thanksgiving Vacation Kickoff Party Wednesday night with Mark Kobie from 6-10 p.m. and Diane Russell Band from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“The Leapin’ Lizard offers a Key West Casual Holiday Celebration — Kick the Sand off your feet and come on down,” wrote Mary Ann Evans.