CLEARWATER, Fla. — One Bay area restaurant was filled with gratitude, big hearts and full bellies after opening its doors to those in need.
It’s an act of kindness inspired by a family tradition and a Clearwater community’s spirit of giving.
Known for its fine Italian cuisine, Villa Bellini in Clearwater closed its doors to regular customers and served up a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast for 300 families in need, the homeless and veterans.
“It looks delicious can’t wait to get into it,” says Scott LaFlure a US Navy Veteran. LaFlure says he’d be at a shelter today alone and homeless, instead he and the other Vets feels loved.
LaFlure says they do it “to open up their doors and treat us like family it’s a wonderful restaurant.”
Some families enjoying a meal have a roof over their heads but struggle financially.
“We probably wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving if not for this,” says Rick Peete. He is at Villa Bellini with his girlfriend, her granddaughter and her parents.
Still Peete who says he was once homeless helped serve others before sitting down to eat. “I have to do whatever I can to help them,” says Peete.
“Makes my heart very happy,” adds Veturia Preston. She helped sponsor this special feast along with Villa Bellini’s owner through Veturia’s organization Our Daily Bread of Tampa Bay. Veturia says, “We want to make sure no one goes hungry in our area.”
It’s an act of kindness Veturia learned from her grandmother as a child in Romania. “They knew they could come to my grandma and get a meal served no questions asked,” says Veturia. Our Daily Bread of Tampa Bay opened 3 years ago.
The Salvation Army in Tampa and Clearwater, RCS Food Bank, and The American Legion Clearwater brought clients to the restaurant.
10News WTSP anchor Reggie Roundtree also stopped by to greet those enjoying a Thanksgiving meal, along with Clearwater’s Mayor, George Cretekos and his family. They thanked the organizers.
After the Thanksgiving dinner, everyone gets a bag filled with food for the holiday weekend.
On this Thanksgiving a community united to help those in need, no questions asked.
Veturia says, “Together we can be much stronger.”
“One person can’t help everybody but everybody can help one person,” says Peete.
A grateful LaFlure says, “Happy Thanksgiving everybody”
Villa Bellini’s owner plans to serve up Thanksgiving dinner again next year.
The hope is other restaurants will participate so they can help more people in need.