LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of Lake Wales residents received full stomachs and warmed hearts Thursday at the Lake Wales Family Restaurant. That’s where 400 people dined – for a free Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.
Each guest was greeted with a hug when they walked through the door. Then they were seated at a table for the kind of service you don’t see every day. Those making and handing out the food didn’t get a dime to do it.
“Just because I love this community and it’s an amazing place to live. And to give back just a little bit of my time for the community, that’s given me such great memories,” server Jessica Jarvis said.
The brain behind the effort is restaurant owner Frank Papadopoulous, who came to America from Greece. He knows what’s it’s like to struggle and now that he has the means to give, he wants to help.
“This country gave me the freedom and a chance of a better success, and I just want to give back and say thank you,” Papadopoulous said.
While the food on the plates filled their stomachs, kindness all around warmed the attendees’ spirits.
“He’s like just, ‘Come out and eat.’ I was like, ‘We can do that?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’” Miriam Cobrington said.
The ones on the receiving end were selected by the Lake Wales Care Center. For them, the meal made a difference. “This meal will help them stretch their dollars, their household budget dollars, their food dollars,” Mike Morrow with The Lake Wales Care Center said.
This marked the second year the restaurant served people for free on Thanksgiving Day.