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 17 years ago.
The community is asked to donate disposable trays loaded with pre-cooked and reheatable mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, baked yams, mashed and baked sweet potatoes, vegetables and other favorite side dishes, as well as 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 about 70 trays of food, as well as donated cakes and pies, and he hopes to meet or exceed that total this year.
St. Matthew’s House plays a vital, 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 each night, one in six Collier residents goes to bed hungry. “That’s shameful to me in a place like Collier County,” he added. “You go over the bridge, and there’s poverty. This is about the people, off-island, who need help. We have to remember them, not just on Thanksgiving.”
St. Matthew’s House Executive Chef Kristopher Jubinville anticipates serving about 1,500 meals consisting of turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet and mashed potatoes, corn and cranberry sauce this year, all prepared in the nonprofit’s kitchen. That total has been holding steady for the last few years, he added.
He said side dish donations from the community are essential “because we only have a small kitchen and we’re serving so many people that our oven space is taken up cooking turkeys.”
Efforts such as those of Filbin and other Marco residents, along with vacationers, mean a great deal, Jubinville added.
“It’s so important having the community helping us out, normal folks who are enjoying their families on Thanksgiving and still want to give back to help others,” he said. “We really want to have the community involved in what we’re doing to change lives at St. Matthew’s House.”
Like Filbin, Jubinville said the need among the county’s disadvantaged is significant.
“Every day, we serve 400 to 500 meals,” he said. “Every day, 250 to 275 people call St. Matthew’s House in need of help. The demand out there is greater than many people think it is. We see hunger and homelessness as something that happens in big cities like Miami, when the reality is hunger and homelessness are happening right here in our backyards.”
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 side dishes can be dropped off from 8–10:30 AM, Thanksgiving Day, at the association’s office, located at 140 Waterway Drive.