Thanksgiving Day will once again be brightened for a group of low-income seniors thanks to the efforts of Marco Island realtor Sandi Sims and the volunteers and donors who assist her.
This year, as she has for the last 10 years, Sims will host a Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional fixins’ at a Marco restaurant for residents of the Goodlette Arms Apartments, a 250- unit, Section 8 development for seniors, located off Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples.
Costs for the meal and transportation for the seniors are all covered through donations from Marco residents and businesses, said Sims, who is with Keller Williams Realty on the island. She handles the organizing and fundraising, with the assistance of Dan Collardey, owner of The SpeakEasy restaurant and Island Eyes Investigative Services on Marco.
“It’s basically all from friends and acquaintances that I’ve met here on Marco, over the years,” Sims said of the fundraising, which is underway now. “I’m not a charity organization, so people can’t get a (tax) write-off. It’s just the kindness of other people. Everything is volunteers, all the cooks and all the waitresses, the people who help them get off the bus. I just have a whole group of people who come every year and help out.”
As with last year, she expects to serve about 90 Goodlette Arms residents at the Thanksgiving Day luncheon. An assortment of Marco restaurants have served the meal over the years. This year, it will be Ciao Bella Ristorante Italiano, located off N. Collier Boulevard. Sims said the very first luncheon was held at that location, when it was occupied by the Fortunes eatery.
Sims said that all donated funds are expended on the meals, busses chartered from Naples Transportation and Tours, and stockings for all the residents “with different goodies in it.”
Residents who are not ambulatory are not forgotten. Sims said she expects to provide at least 30 dinners for the homebound.
Sims started her Thanksgiving charitable tradition after moving to the island in 2000. It was something she’d also done at the restaurant in Colorado that she managed before coming to Marco.
When asked how it feels to know she’s making a difference for others during the holiday season, she said mere words aren’t sufficient.
“I think you almost have to come and see how special these people are, how appreciative,” said Sims. “Many of them have no family or no family nearby. These people just make my heart happy.”
To donate, contact Sims at 239-404-2448 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Collardey at 239-821-3125.