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Free Thanksgiving Day food boxes, prepared meals, offered

Reservations for food pickup, dinner, required

By CJ HADDAD - | Nov 19, 2020

Members of the Cape Coral Elks Lodge and local organization Friends and Neighbors of the Cape will host a free Thanksgiving meal to help those in need this holiday season.

The two will co-host a complimentary Thanksgiving dinner to all residents of the area; whether that be veterans, families or any individual.

“The Elks like to invest in our local community for things that help veterans, children who are ill and those members of the lodge,” said Cape Coral Elks Lodge 2596 President, Richard Kampf.

When the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library recently moved out of the Cape, Friends and Neighbors founder Jim Purin was left without a location to prepare his annual free-of-charge Thanksgiving dinner to the Cape Coral community that’s been going strong 14 years.

Kampf and Purin now have teamed up, with the dinner to be held at the Elks Lodge at 850 Lafayette St. from 1 to 4 p.m.

“We know during the COVID crisis that we’re in, many people are suffering,” Kampf said. “We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people who need food baskets.”

Food baskets will be distributed this Monday at the Elks Lodge from 9 to 11 a.m. The backets include a frozen turkey, stuffing, vegetables and more that locals can take home and cook on their own.

The dinner being held at the Elks Lodge is a homecoming of sorts, as Purin held the event there the first two years before moving to the museum based on size and number of attendees.

“We used to just serve a hot meal but now we’ve expanded where we can distribute meals for people to take home,” Purin said. “We give out around 13,000 meals over Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

By returning to the Elks lodge, Purin said he can keep the same format as was at the military museum. He prepares the food, compiles baskets for those to take home and, when it’s ready, serves it to the community.

“This is a joint venture that will hopefully continue and grow,” Purin said.

The need in 2020 is even greater than in years past and it’s starting to show, as Purin said he sees when working with the Cape Coral Caring Center the day-to-day struggles some are experiencing

“The need is there, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “There’s too many people who won’t have a meal on Thanksgiving.”

The partnership best serves both groups and, in turn, gives them a chance to make a more substantial impact in their efforts.

“The point of the message here is that we want to make a difference in the community,” Kampf said. “Both organizations combining efforts and volunteer services within the Elks are here to serve those in need. What is paramount to us is to give those families, veterans and children some relief during the holiday season.”

Purin and Kampf each thank their volunteers for their time and donations to making this year’s dinner possible.

Attendees must register for both food baskets on Monday and the Thanksgiving dinner in advance.

To make a reservation, call 239-205-6048. Callers can leave a message with their name, number and party size. Deadline to register for the basket is early Monday morning; deadline for Thanksgiving Day is that morning.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj