Bill Filbin is once again calling upon his fellow Marco Islanders to assist the underprivileged by donating to the St. Matthew’s House Thanksgiving dinner food drive.
St. Matthew’s House is a nonprofit, Naples-based homeless shelter and food bank that prepares Thanksgiving Day meals for hundreds of Collier County’s economically disadvantaged each year.
Filbin spearheads the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors’ annual donation of side dishes for the nonprofit, an effort that he founded 19 years ago.
The community is asked to donate disposable covered trays of pre-cooked and reheatable side dishes such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, baked yams, mashed and baked sweet potatoes, vegetables and other favorites, as well as boxed-up pies. Items that require refrigeration are discouraged.
Filbin, a realtor for Remax Affinity Plus on Marco, transports the food to the nonprofit’s Airport-Pulling Road campus himself. Last year, he collected 72 trays of food, along with donated pies, and this year, he hopes to meet or exceed that total.
St. Matthew’s House plays a year round role in helping to fight hunger in Collier County, he said. “They need help every day, not just on Thanksgiving,” he added. “They’re feeding the homeless on a daily basis.”
Filbin said he’s heard estimates that one in six Collier residents goes to bed hungry each night. “That’s shameful to me in a place like Collier County,” he added. “We just don’t see it here on Marco, but I think this is a way to remind people and myself, that right across the bridge are people who are going hungry.”
St. Matthew’s House Executive Chef Kristopher Jubinville anticipates serving 800 to 900 hot meals consisting of turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet and mashed potatoes, corn and cranberry sauce this year at the shelter, with another 1,500 meals delivered to underprivileged families.
All the meals are prepared in the nonprofit’s small kitchen. Jubinville said side dish donations from the community are essential for Thanksgiving because oven space is needed to cook turkeys.
Efforts such as those of Filbin and other Marco residents, along with vacationers, mean a great deal, he added.
“To have the support of the community is critical,” he said. “Without their support, we wouldn’t have the time or the logistics to help who we help and to continue to have the outreach that we have.”
Like Filbin, Jubinville said the need among the county’s disadvantaged is significant.
“We’re serving more people now than we have ever before and that’s because of the size of the need,” he said. “The need is increasing, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. It’s bittersweet for us because there are so many people needing our service, but at the same time, we’re proud of the change that we’re going make in Southwest Florida.”
To donate to the St. Matthew’s House Thanksgiving Dinner
To pick up aluminum disposable trays with covers, contact Kandy Sweeney at the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors at 239-394-5616. The trays are stacked for travel, so no excess liquid please. The pre-cooked side dishes and boxed-up pies can be dropped off 8 AM – 10:30 AM, Thanksgiving Day, at the association’s office, located at 140 Waterway Drive.