Serving up generosity

Itsa Deli Thing, 202 W. Main St. in Owosso, is shown Friday. The restaurant will be distributing Thanksgiving meals to-go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.

OWOSSO — Itsa Deli Thing, 202 W. Main St., is giving away free meals to the public on Thanksgiving, due to the COVID-19-related lockdown that will likely keep many families apart for the holiday.

Dawn McCoy, who owns the restaurant with Chris Owens, said staff has already started preparations to provide as many as 400 meals to distribute. The meals will be packaged in to-go boxes and will include turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean and sweet potato casserole, corn, rolls, pie, and stuffing, of course.

She said the meals are available to anyone who is alone on the holiday, homeless, quarantined or just hungry.

“This year, because of COVID and the Shiawassee Council on Aging not doing anything, I’m not sure how many we’re going to go through,” McCoy said. “We don’t want people to go without.”

McCoy said the restaurant has one good-sized oven, as well as roasters that can be used to cook turkeys. This year will be the third consecutive that Itsa Deli Thing has given away free meals on Thanksgiving. She added that staff will also be delivering meals to Owosso police, Memorial Healthcare, as well as other service industry employees who have to work on the holiday, many of who had no idea the meals were available and hadn’t requested one. But McCoy said it was a nice feeling anyway.

The first year of the Thanksgiving meal giveaway, about 150 meals were distributed, followed by an increase to about 250 to 300 last year. McCoy said she is planning to cook 20 to 25 turkeys this year, up from 12 last year, which will be quite the logistical feat.

“This year, I have no idea how many people are going to want meals,” McCoy said.

She added she wants to continue the tradition because she wants a big Thanksgiving Day that has a family feel to it and helps the community at the same time.

“It seems like after the patriarchs of your family pass away, no one gets together or does anything any more,” McCoy said. “My grandparents have passed away. A large family get-together on Thanksgiving dwindled down to me, my mom and my sister. I’ve decided that I want a big Thanksgiving.”

Diana McCoy, Dawn’s sister, is also an employee at Itsa Deli Thing, and said she and her fellow employees just want to help the community during a difficult time.

“It’s really a nice thing to be able to do for a lot of people who maybe don’t have the capability of having a Thanksgiving meal,” Diana McCoy said. “So it’s something that we can do. And we’re happy to do it.”

“This is my home,” Dawn McCoy said, when asked what her motivation is. “I don’t have a big family to celebrate with any more. It’s the giving season. Let’s kick it off right.”

Additionally, the Owosso Freemasons Lodge 81 will be assisting with the delivery of the meals to area resident’s homes.

Anyone who wants a Thanksgiving meal, can pick one up curbside at Itsa Deli Thing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving. To request a porch dropoff, call (989) 725-5511 or send a message to the restaurant’s Facebook page, with an address for delivery, requested delivery time, and how many meals are being requested.

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