The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Free Thanksgiving Meals Bring Southern Ocean County Community Together

Nov 14, 2018

As the holiday season fast approaches, a couple of local establishments are putting the final organizational touches on their free Thanksgiving meals – to ensure that every person, on the Island and mainland, has the opportunity to feast on turkey and all the trimmings surrounded by others from the community.

Members of Tuckerton’s Red Men Lodge, assisted by members of its women’s auxiliary, the Degree of Pocahontas, and additional volunteers, will serve its annual Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, Nov. 18, from noon until 4 p.m. This is the tribe’s 18th year offering a free turkey dinner for all in the area. Around 300 people were fed at the very first Red Men Thanksgiving, and now more than 1,500 people regularly attend.

As the Red Men note on their website, the event is a “special day of extending thanks to our community, which continues to be a most rewarding and heartwarming experience for all those involved. Members and friends unite together cooking, serving and cleaning up; seniors, youngsters, families, and singles come to enjoy our meal, meeting old friends, meeting and making new friends. The uplifting camaraderie of the day reminds us that all things are possible if we simply open our hearts and minds. Celebrate our community – together.”

The Red Men Lodge is located at 145 West Main St. (Route 9), adjacent to Tip Seaman County Park, in Tuckerton.

And on Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, Nov. 22 – the Sandbox Café in Surf City will serve a Thanksgiving meal for the third year. The free dinner will run from noon to 5 p.m.

“We started this two years ago,” Sandbox owner Dana DiSalvio explained. “It’s something I’d always wanted to do, and I said if I ever had a place with four walls (unlike the original Sandbox Café location, in Ship Bottom), I would do this.”

For its inaugural Turkey Day dinner, in 2016, DiSalvio and two volunteers served about 40 diners. Last year, the event had 40 volunteers – including members of the Surf City Fire Co. and EMS peeling potatoes – and 176 meals were served. “The word got out, and more people were involved,” she noted.

Last year the repast also raised $1,300 for the St. Francis Food Pantry.

“This year,” DiSalvio pointed out, “I’m truly trying to make this a community event.” Scojo’s is bringing the soup, Shore Fire Grill is making the stuffing, and Wally’s Restaurant is on potato duty. She is also touching base with other local businesses to see if they would like to contribute.

“Our community takes care of us 364 days of the year, and we want to take care of them,” she stated.

Reservations for the Thanksgiving meal are not required, but diners are encouraged to call the Sandbox, at 609-361-2524, if they want to let organizers know the size of their party and time they expect to arrive. Anyone who would like to volunteer – for one of three crews that DiSalvio is scheduling for different times throughout the event – may call that number as well.

And feel free to drop off any frozen turkeys, pies or other donations at the SandBox, at 1403 Long Beach Blvd. The restaurant is open Friday to Monday through the LBI Christmas Parade. Or call 609-361-2524, or send a Facebook message, to coordinate a donation drop-off. —J.K.H.

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