With the help of local donations, an East Dundee restaurateur is teaming up with an Elgin church to bring free Thanksgiving meals to the northern Fox Valley.
Beverardo Sanchez, the owner of the Family Buffet, is working with the Elgin Evangelical Covenant Church to provide 1,000 dinners on Thanksgiving to families who have no place else to go or cannot afford to buy their own holiday meal.
"We have so much to be thankful for," said Henoch Fuentes, one of the organizers. "We have our freedom to be thankful for. We have our friends to be thankful for and our families to be thankful for. This is a celebration for everyone."
It also is a project that needs the community's help. In order for it to be a success, hams, turkeys and other food donations are needed along with volunteers to help cook and serve the diners who want to eat at the Route 25 restaurant or take the cooked food home.
"We'll need about 100 turkeys, 50 hams and 50 chickens," Fuentes said. "We'll also need cans of vegetables, potatoes and rolls."
Church members will donate some of the items. Organizers are hoping local residents will donate the rest.
"We'll start cooking the turkeys, hams and chickens, a day or two before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22)." Sanchez said. "The turkeys should be boneless because they will take less time to cook. A full turkey takes about 3½ hours to cook. A boneless turkey will take about an hour and a half to cook."
Hams takes less time to cook because many are already cooked.
The volunteers will help prepare the food, prepare the restaurant and serve the dinners. He and Fuentes are appealing to Dundee Township area groups to donate their time and food to ensure everyone receives a meal.
Sanchez's restaurant, at 520 Dundee Ave., seats 150 people. The dinners will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To donate food or time, call Fuentes at (847) 888-2302 or call Sanchez at (847) 836-6887.
The food is needed by Tuesday, Nov. 20.
Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. They should be made by Wednesday, Nov. 21. No meals will be delivered and dessert will not be included with the meals.
"It's a struggle to put together desserts with a project like this," Sanchez said.