Homeless to celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an extra-special day at Coalition for the Homeless.  Thanks to our wonderful community partners, the men, women and families with children who have turned to us for food, shelter and services get to experience “Turkey Day” much like others in Central Florida.  As past residents have shared, the day provides a respite from their current crisis and feelings of hope for the future.

For the 19th year, about 130 Orlando Magic staffers and volunteers will serve a delicious Thanksgiving breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits, pastries and juice to more than 700 residents and members of the community who are hungry.  Hot chocolate, coffee, and fixings are donated by Panera Bread. To host the occasion, the Coalition’s Men’s Pavilion will be decorated to a tee; and our guests will be thrilled to meet and be served by Orlando Magic President Alex Martins, President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith, Coach Stan Van Gundy, and Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw!

The Magic will also host a special carnival for children, immediately following breakfast, at the Coalition’s main campus.  Festivities include guest appearances by STUFF the Magic Mascot and the Magic Dancers, the Fanbulance, face painting, and music by Star 94.5 and Power 95.3.  Adults and children are treated to haircuts by 50 stylists from Paul Mitchell The School, as well as yummy cookies, Danish and bagels from Panera Bread.  A special carnival thrill for the kids this year will be Puddleby Pony and Smooch the pig.

In past years, clients from our Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC) came to the main campus to enjoy the morning festivities.  This year, thanks to Refuge Touch Church, Hilton Grand Vacations, Orlando Health, Winter Park High School Fishing Club, Life Center Church, Break Thru the Generation, Blessed and Delivered, VTICU/CRCU nursing teams, the Dorman and Tajudeen families, and several of our regular volunteers, a special breakfast and carnival will take place there as well.

And how about the traditional turkey and fixin’s?  We are grateful that Walt Disney World Resort is serving Thanksgiving dinner at both main campus dining areas, as they have done for many years.  Chef Tony Marotta and his team began Sunday to prepare for the feast, which includes roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie, when the team started making sauces, gravy, stuffing and cranberry relish – all from scratch.  A delicious dinner will also be served at WRCC thanks to Carter Tabernacle CME Church.

Another tradition is tonight’s Thanksgiving eve meal cooked and served by Planet Hollywood and radio station XL 106.7.  We can almost smell the wonderful aroma in the hallways already!!

Thank you to all who continue to give of themselves to the men, women and children who call the Coalition “home.”  A special debt of gratitude to volunteer photographer Frank Mitchell, who will make sure we’ll have loads of photos to post after the event.