LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 21, 2011 â€“ Close to 600 people will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Coalition for the Homeless on Thursday â€“ thanks to Chef Tony Marotta and his team at Walt Disney World Resort.
Preparations for the meal, which includes roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie, began on Sunday, when the team started making sauces, gravy, stuffing and cranberry relish â€“ all from scratch.
â€œIt is an extremely rewarding experience to be able to provide a sense of family and involvement for those who would have otherwise missed out on this time of year, when sharing a meal and giving thanks as a family is so important,â€ said Marotta, who has also made Thanksgiving meals for the organization in previous years.
In addition to the holiday meals, Walt Disney World Resort and Disney VoluntEARS support Coalition for the Homeless throughout the year in a number of ways.
For more than 10 years, food and beverage teams across Disney property have taken turns preparing meals for the organizationâ€™s clients twice a month â€“ a total of 9,000 meals each year.
The organization also receives meals from Disney Harvest, a program in which excess prepared and unserved food from locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort are collected and delivered to more than 60 nonprofit organizations located in Central Florida.
Engineering Services Cast Members often perform maintenance work, such as cleaning air-conditioning units in the housing complex, and Disney VoluntEARS also visit the Coalition to help babysit children while their parents attend meetings or workshops the organization provides to help them back on their feet.
â€œWe canâ€™t thank [Disney] enough for their financial support of our childrenâ€™s programs, donations of in-kind items and services, and amazing number of VoluntEAR hours given so freely by so many employees on all types of projects,â€ said Brent Trotter, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. â€œThe time Disney spends in preparing and serving our homeless residents the evening meal on Thanksgiving is the icing on the cake.â€
For the past three years, Coalition for the Homeless has been recognized as one of the top Disneyâ€™s Helping Kids Shine grant recipients. As part of this recognition, the Coalition continues to receive funding and ongoing comprehensive support from Disney, which includes board service, assistance in the maintenance and improvement of Coalition facilities, meals prepared by Disney chefs and donations of warm clothing in the winter.
To learn more about how you can help, visit centralfloridahomeless.org/.