(Posted Dec. 2, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
On Thanksgiving Day, Phat Daddy’s Pizza in London traded in pepperoni and mozzarella for turkey and mashed potatoes, serving up 234 Thanksgiving meals with all of the trimmings to people in need of a hot meal for the holiday.
This marked the fourth straight year that Phat Daddy’s owner Angie Harris rallied donors and volunteers to make the giveaway possible. Meals were available for dine-in or pick-up at the East First Street restaurant. Volunteers also delivered 145 of the meals to elderly shut-ins in London, South Solon, South Charleston and Lilly Chapel.
“Our goal for next year is to go further out into the county with our deliveries,” Harris said.
The tradition started in 2012 when Harris and friend, Anna Bingman, learned that a local non-profit was unable to do its free Thanksgiving meal that year.
“Anna and I decided we could do it, and we pulled it together in less than two weeks,” Harris said.
The first year, Harris, Bingman and company served 50 meals. The next year, the total jumped to 141. Last year, they served 192 meals. Initially, Phat Daddy’s picked up most of the tab for the cost of the food. That has since changed as the community has jumped on board.
“Bob Evans donates rolls. KFC donates biscuits. Businesses, organizations, churches and people in the community donate money and food. Customers put money in the collection jar at our counter,” Harris said.
“I get phone calls from people who say, ‘Don’t forget me. I will donate.’ ” she continued. “We’re thankful for everyone who helps out.”
That includes the people who supply the manpower, including family, friends and even customers who want to lend a helping hand. Together, they turn out a meal that includes ham, turkey, bread, corn, baked beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie.
Harris takes requests for meal deliveries until the day before Thanksgiving. Dine-in and carryout meals are available on a first come, first-served basis until the food runs out. All of the action takes place on Thanksgiving Day.
And the meals are well received. Harris tells a story about one recipient who called in to request a delivery. Because he had had a stroke, he was difficult to understand and Harris didn’t catch his address. With the help of caller ID and some research, she figured out where the man lived and delivered the meal.
“When he got to the door, he started crying,” she said.
One of many other touching stories includes that of an elderly woman whose thank-you note read: “I never thought I’d be old and forgotten, but I am just that.” She went on to write that she had not had a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving in eight years.
The stories are emotional and a big part of what keeps Harris and friends coming back each year to do it all over again.
“It does make you feel good—it gives you a really good feeling—to give back,” Harris said.