A few good Samaritans have come together to continue an annual tradition as they offer free meals to those in need on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Mark Matthias, the owner of Beaches Restaurant and Bar, plans to distribute around 2,000 meals to senior citizen facilities, veteran facilities and homeless shelters in Battle Ground, Vancouver and other places throughout the county.
“The holiday dinners are for people in need, people who have nowhere to go,” Matthias said. “It is primarily delivery now. We’re going to them since we really don’t have a location like we used to for sit-down dining.”
The food will be delivered to 36 locations, which have an occupancy of at least 20 people. The food will be a traditional holiday meal that consists of turkey, ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
While delivery is the main way to get the meals, Matthias said the meals can also be picked up or eaten at the Old Fire Station at 900 W. Evergreen Blvd. in Vancouver, which will serve around 300 meals.
Matthias said they will also deliver food to various homeless camps. In the past, they’ve dropped food off at a camp in Woodland.
“We’ll drive about anywhere,” he said. “We call all the facilities we went to last year first. We’ve picked up a few additional ones already for this year, but we’ll be ready to do about 2,000 meals.”
Matthias said the dinners started with Rich Melnick and Chuck Chronis, the latter of whom owned the now closed Chronis’ in Vancouver, where the meals would be served.
“When Chuck retired and he sold his restaurant, there was kind of a void there on what he was doing, so we picked it up in 2016,” Matthias said. “When I had Warehouse 23 … we were able to provide that same sit-down dining. Once that lease ended for redevelopment, we became more mobile, which was about the time the pandemic hit.”
Once Matthias and Melnick went mobile, they realized it was easier to get food to recipients through delivery.
“We’re really doing it in the spirit of Chronis’ restaurant, who did it for so many years. It was really cool what they were doing,” Matthias said.
He said the restaurant would also help make food when Matthias owned Warehouse 23, so “it was great to have that expertise and passion around feeding people on the holidays.”
This year, he said the Beaches Charity Fund will help provide the food. They will also receive donations from Sysco Food Services, Portland French Bakery, the Today Foundation and individual donors.
Matthias said around 60 volunteers help prep and serve the food.
Last year during Christmas, Matthias said his crew served 1,752 meals, and ended up donating 250 more. This year, he’s planning on 2,000 meals, which he believes is an easy goal to reach. Currently, he said there’s been “tons of interest.” That interest has also come from people who were served meals last year.
Matthias enjoys running the event for various reasons.
“It’s just recognizing that there’s people out there that need a little help,” he said. “I guess the real gratification of this is just knowing you have a whole team of people together with one purpose, and that is to help others. I guess for me and the 60-70 other volunteers we’ll probably have this year, I really can’t think of a better place to be on Thanksgiving day or Christmas day.”
The dinners at the Old Fire Station will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24 and on Sunday, Dec. 25. There will be limited seating and one dinner per person.
For more information, contact 360-699-1592 and ask for Matthias, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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