For years Angie Mikus and her family would gather on Thanksgiving at her grandmother’s house, eat good food, talk and have a good time.
“It was mandatory to go to my Me-Maw’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Mikus said.
But after she passed away in 2005, the family gathered less often. Her grandmother was everything to her, she said. She taught her values.
For a few years, she was at a low point in her life. Then four years ago, Mikus put those values to the test when she started giving back to the community by serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless and less fortunate.
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“This has just given me a new purpose,” Mikus said.
It has since evolved into a Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wants a meal or wants spend the holiday with others. Thanksgiving is a time for fellowship, she said.
“I know how it is not to be able to afford to have Thanksgiving or to struggle to provide Thanksgiving,” Mikus, a single mother of two, said. “I try to focus on that to do what I can to help the community because the community was so good to me helping to raise my kids.”
Each year, Mikus has served more people. The first year she started having the dinner, the restaurant served about 250 people. Last year, she and volunteers from the community served 500 people. Mikus said she hopes to serve even more this year.
Jessica Eubanks and Brandy Strickland, both cousins and employees at Angie’s Restaurant, have volunteered each year.
Eubanks and Strickland said it means a lot to them to give back. They said the people they serve are grateful. Many people are surprised.
“It makes us cry,” Strickland said. “It makes us emotional. It’s good to be able to give back and be apart of something like that.”
Eubanks said growing up she saw many people who were homeless and didn’t have anything. Both women say it makes them appreciative and want to give back.
That’s what Thanksgiving is about, Eubanks said.
“It’s just about family,” Eubanks said. “Just being thankful for having things that other don’t have. Being able to do this, that other people can’t do.”
Mikus said if people can’t make it to the restaurant, then she’ll have some volunteers deliver the meal to them or bring them to the restaurant.
Mikus is also partnering with Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to senior citizens and those who may not be able to afford it. The agency doesn’t operate on Thanksgiving Day. Mikus has volunteers who will deliver meals to those who are served by the organization.
Ham, turkey, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce and dressing headline the menu. The Thanksgiving dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“This is not work for me. I love it, this is my passion so I feel like I can do things to get people together,” Mikus said. “I want to do it. I don’t have to do it.”
“I think if we all would do a little giving, it would make this place a better place and we wouldn’t have children in Garner or in other places going hungry,” she added.