'Blessed and thankful:' South Elgin Police and Village Squire serve up Thanksgiving meals

As a young adult, Bob Karas often spent Thanksgiving at the family restaurant, The Village Squire in West Dundee, with his parents and siblings serving up meals to those in need.

"I was involved a little bit, but I was younger," said Karas, whose father, Paul Karas, would open his restaurant to serve those in need. "I always, at that time, selfishly thought we should be with our family at home."

On Thursday, though, Karas was in no hurry as he and his sister, Despina Karas, and the South Elgin Police Department welcomed more than 100 people into The Village Squire in South Elgin for a community feast.

"We're excited to do this," he said. "I think it could become an annual thing."

Thursday's feast was organized by the South Elgin Police Department, which worked with local schools and social service agencies to invite residents in need. The South Elgin Jewel provided cooked turkey and fixings, Sam's Club in Elgin donated pies, and the Bear Family McDonald restaurants in South Elgin provided cookies. Karas, who last year worked with police to deliver Thanksgiving meals to families, opened his restaurant this year to offer a bit of ambience for families as they enjoyed the meal.

"Coming out of the pandemic, everyone is going through something, and times are tough," said South Elgin Police Officer James Creighton, who organized the event. "What better way for the South Elgin Police Department, partnering with local businesses and organizations, to help one another and make the holidays just a little easier for our residents."

Guests sat with their families as they savored the luncheon and chatted with officers who served the meals Thursday.

"I think it's great," said Jose "Benny" Rocha, who was joined by his wife, Tracy, and their children. "We've been struggling ... for this to happen is like a blessing."

Many at Thursday's gathering expressed gratitude for their family, health and a welcoming community.

"They really care about the community," said Laura Amezcua, who was with her two children. "We feel blessed and thankful."

About a dozen officers who served food also were treated to a meal once all the guests had been served.

  South Elgin Police Officer James Creighton poses for a photo outside The Village Squire with Laura Amezcua, far right, and her children Sam and Melanie Granda. Creighton worked with The Village Squire and other businesses to host a Thanksgiving luncheon to help South Elgin families in need. Alicia Fabbre/
  Aiden Brooks, left, and Nico Karas volunteer to plate meals for a Thanksgiving luncheon Thursday at The Village Squire in South Elgin. Alicia Fabbre/
  Tracy Rocha, front left, and her husband, Jose "Benny" Rocha, back left, enjoy a Thanksgiving luncheon with their children and granddaughter Thursday. The South Elgin Police Department and The Village Squire hosted the event to help local families. Alicia Fabbre/
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