For the third year in a row, a Van Buren couple are providing a formal dining experience and free dinner for the community on Thanksgiving Day.
Richard and Helen Hodo are providing a free full course Thanksgiving meal at their restaurant, Sisters Gourmet Bistro, with an invitation for dinner going out to the entire area.
“We just like to give back to the community, not only to the needy and senior citizens, but to anybody that can come,” Richard Hodo said.
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner offered by the Hodos includes turkey and ham hand-carved at the serving table by Sisters chefs, potato and vegetable side dishes, salads, desserts, coffee and soft drinks, Hodo said.
“It will be really nice and it doesn’t matter who comes,” Hodo said. “If they don’t feel like cooking, they can just come down to Sisters and get them a real nice dinner.”
Last year the restaurant served 23 turkeys and 15 hams for the special meal, with up to 600 people dining, and Hodo is expecting even more this year, he said.
Service will begin at 10:30 a.m. and last until the food is gone, Richard said. Though Hodo offered to pay his staff for their hours, they all volunteered their time for the event, he said.
Other members of the community often volunteer to help as well, he said.
“It’s just amazing how many people do want to give back,” Hodo said.
Though the dinner and service are free, a donation box is put out for those who would like to contribute, he said.
About $1,400 was collected during the dinner last year, Hodo said, with the money being donated to the Van Buren Police Department Shop with a Cop program. He said he has noticed people often give more freely when they know the money is going to help children.
“Anybody who wants to give, they don’t have to, but if they feel they want to, 100 percent goes to the Shop With a Cop program to help needy kids have a good Christmas,” Hodo said.
For seniors and disabled residents that cannot attend the dinner, a delivery service will be available, he said.
Those that want to volunteer to help out this year or would like to make an order for delivery can contact the Sister’s restaurant manager at (479) 474-4949.
The Hodos also are sponsors of Gospel Rescue Mission in Van Buren, which will provide a free meal on Thanksgiving Day for those in need.
“They’ve been helping the mission for a long, long time,” said Jimmy Sanders of Gospel Rescue Mission.
Free meals are offered by the church weekday evenings and Sunday, but a Thanksgiving Day meal is also prepared each year, Sanders said.
Mission staff and volunteers will serve the meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sanders said. The meal will have all of the traditional Thanksgiving fixings, including turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, and dessert, he said.
“It’ll be a good meal,” Sanders said.
Food is donated through individuals, companies and school food drives, Sanders said.
Last year the mission served about 250 people - up from 200 the year before - and the mission is prepared to feed as many this year or more, he said.
More people on fixed incomes have been taking advantage of the free daily meals, Sanders said, and expects the same to be true on Thanksgiving.
For more information, contact Sanders at (479) 474-4163.