ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Golden Corral, with the generous support of Orlando-area businesses, will once again serve free meals to the public on Thanksgiving Day for the 22nd consecutive year as part of the annual "Helpings from the Heart" program. The program is expected to serve more than 25,000 meals to deserving residents in Central Florida on Thanksgiving Day.
The event will take place beginning at 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 27, in the Salvation Army gymnasium located at 440 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL. The dinner is a collaborative effort between Eric Holm, owner and president of Metro Corral Partners, and several area business partners and community groups.
Holm founded "Helpings from the Heart" in 1993 as a way to give back to the community and thank The Salvation Army, which provided a Thanksgiving meal to the Holm family when he was a child. Holm experienced the need for help first-hand. He grew up in a single-parent family and worked to help support his mother as a busboy in a restaurant where she was a waitress. This annual event now gives Holm the opportunity to help others who may not be able to afford a full Thanksgiving meal.
"Golden Corral takes great pride in feeding the community every day of the year in its restaurants, and we see Thanksgiving as a way of helping Central Florida by providing for those in need," said Holm. "This year, we know all kinds of families may need help."
The dinner is a joint venture between Holm and area nonprofit organizations, corporations and local businesses, including The Salvation Army, Smokey Bones, Cheney Brothers, Pepsi, MBM, Harvillis, Bubbalous, Puff n Stuff, Universal and the Orange County Sheriff's Office, which provides protection for all guests and volunteers. More than 1,100 Salvation Army volunteers will arrive throughout the day to assist with serving the meal this year.
"Last year we served over 22,000 meals, and this year with the economy the way it is, we are preparing for over 25,000 meals," said Jason Gronlund, executive chef, vice president of Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill and kitchen manager of Helpings from the Heart. "We know that it is a lot of food to prepare, but every year we are ready for the challenge and get better at doing it."
Gronlund and his staff will prepare more than 4,500 pounds of turkey and 3,500 pounds of ham along with plenty of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, corn, pie, fruit and beverages. Meals are also available for carry-out or will be picked up and delivered to nursing homes, shut-ins, local churches and other facilities throughout the Orlando area.
"The Salvation Army is proud to partner with Golden Corral to serve up one of the largest Thanksgiving meals in the nation," said Major Mark Woodcock of The Salvation Army, Orlando Area Command. "On this national day of Thanksgiving, over 1,000 volunteers will assemble at The Salvation Army in Orlando to serve good food, love and compassion to make this a true day of Thanksgiving."
Those wishing to donate to The Salvation Army to fight hunger year-round are encouraged to text "Helpings" to 41444 to continue feeding the disadvantaged men, women and children in their shelters.
Eric Holm of Metro Corral Partners is a prominent businessman in the Orlando community and longtime supporter of The Salvation Army. He owns and operates 32 Golden Corral restaurants and specializes in making pleasurable dining affordable.
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.
SOURCE Golden Corral