Serving an Italian feast to raise money for area food banks has become tradition at "Chef Jeff" Freehof's Evans restaurant in the days before Thanksgiving.
"I'm grateful that it's continued to do well," said Freehof, owner of the Garlic Clove Italian Eatery. "People look forward to it now."
The annual Italian Thanksgiving Feast will return to the Garlic Clove, 4461 Washington Road, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday. In years past, the event was held on Mondays.
With the help of several sponsors, this is the fourth year Freehof has played host to the event, which was started in 2002 as the Turkey Fest by the owners of the former Peppermill Restaurant.
With a monetary donation of any amount, diners can feast on chicken Parmesan, pasta with Alfredo sauce, baked ziti with meat sauce, antipasto salad and homemade bread.
Area celebrity servers will wait on customers. The celebrity staff consists of Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, school board member Mike Sleeper, Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine, former NFL player Bill Kay, county government officials and members of the media.
"When so many people pull together to make something great happen and to help feed the hungry, there's nothing that can beat that at all," Freehof said.
All proceeds will benefit Golden Harvest Food Bank and Columbia County Cares food pantry.
In 2009, Freehof said, the restaurant fed about 400 people and raised more than $4,500.
"Every single penny that comes in at the door from customers goes straight to the food banks," Freehof said.
Those who don't have time to dine in can call in orders and pick them up at the restaurant.
Added to this year's event is a prescription drop-off area in Garlic Clove's parking lot.
From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., people can turn in expired, unused or unwanted medications and donate nonperishable food items.
The MCG Student Nursing Association, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Water Utility will collect and safely dispose of the drugs.
For information about the Italian Thanksgiving Feast, call the restaurant at (706) 364-7377.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
School board member Mike Sleeper showed Malinda Howell (left) and Rebecca Mooney to their table at the Garlic Clove during last year's Italian Thanksgiving Feast.
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