Enjoying an Italian feast served by local celebrities is one way to help the hungry this Thanksgiving.
The annual fundraising event, which started as Turkey Fest by the owners of The Peppermill Restaurant, is returning Monday to The Garlic Clove.
"It is still the same premise of what Peppermill started, with a new twist," said Pam Tucker, Columbia County Emergency Services Division Director and an event organizer.
The new twist: The Garlic Clove Italian Eatery owner Jeff Freehof.
Freehof said he has worked with and volunteered for Golden Harvest Food Bank, heard about the fundraiser and wanted to continue it.
Former Peppermill owners Glenn Kersch and Ling-Feng Tang started the fundraiser in 2002 by offering a Thanksgiving dinner in exchange for donations split between Golden Harvest and Columbia County Cares food pantry.
"They are all going to be eating plenty of turkey later in the week," Freehof said. "We're Italian; that's what we are. Let's put an Italian spin on it."
Guests are invited from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to enjoy antipasto salad, baked ziti, tortellini with alfredo sauce, lasagna and chicken parmesan for a donation that will be split between the food pantries.
Celebrity servers, including Columbia County government and elected officials and area media personalities, will be ready to serve each customer at the restaurant located in the former Peppermill location at 4461 Washington Road.
"And we've got a great crew lined up," Tucker said, adding that she has served at the event since 2003.
If you have only an hour for lunch, Tucker said getting you back to work on time isn't a concern.
"I don't want them to worry about that," Tucker said.
Event organizers have planned a method to get guests seated and served within minutes, Tucker said.
Last year, Peppermill did not hold the event. But in 2005, Tucker said more than 700 people were served, which made $6,505 to help ensure those in need enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.
Freehof is forgoing his lunch day sales and paying kitchen staffers, and sponsors Earth Fare, Dr. Alton "Butch" Garrison and Allegra Printing made donations to help defray the cost of food.
There will be plenty of food, so no one should go home hungry.
"If they do, it is their own fault," Freehof said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.