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Free Thanksgiving meals to be offered in Cape Coral

November 21, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Maybe they're in need, or maybe they just simply don't have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving since their loved ones are far away.

Some area restaurants are going to give these people something to be thankful for by offering Thanksgiving dinner free of charge.

Ralph's Place and Tubby's Hangout will open their doors on the holiday, forgoing the opportunity to make big bucks like many restaurants do to welcome people to spend the day with them and eat until they're full or the Tryptophan kicks in during the Cowboys vs. Raiders game.

Ralph's, which is under new ownership, will continue its tradition of inviting the homeless, needy and even its customers with no local family, to enjoy Thanksgiving with them throughout the day.

"This is the first year I've done it, so the previous owner is going to come in and help us out," said Bob Burns, the new owner. "Last year we served about 150 people who were needy or just regular patrons who frequent the bar and don't have family here."

At the dinner, they take donations for the Christmas Kids, a charity that donates toys to needy children in the area and one Ralph's raises money for year round.

For the sixth year in a row, Tubby's is also hosting Thanksgiving dinner for those looking for company, with many who come bringing their own dishes for a late afternoon/early evening feast.

"We used to close, but we found out there were a few people who had nowhere to go, so we stayed open and give them Thanksgiving," said owner Rick Goulett. "We provide the ham, turkey and rolls, while others will bring in potluck."

Goulett said it's for their customer base and not a homeless feeding, but it has enjoyed great success over the years.

He also said if you are going to bring something to let them know in advance so they can prepare for the space needed.

"If I don't have anything to do and I'm alone, I may whip up some mashed potatoes and bring it," Goulett said. "That's how it works."

For those who would rather spend the holiday at home, the Cape Caring Center is giving away 200 turkeys and dinners to the neediest families in the city, which it has been doing for many years. Those will be given starting today through Tuesday.

"We had a sign up in October and we had 200 families we'll be helping out," said Wendy Wootten, operations manager at the center, which has also been involved in a mobile food pantry. "We've been able to feed our residents through the Chapin food pantry and that has worked well."



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