Thanksgiving Day is a time to reconnect with extended family, loved ones who have traveled into town, and your sibling who is away at college but needs their laundry done, plus a hot meal. But what about for individuals without families?
In 1987, the late-local restauranteur Guido Tiozzo, of Donatello Italian Restaurant, linked up with then-Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman (the city's first female mayor) and created a tradition to help those who could use a warm embrace from their community. That tradition was hosting Thanksgiving for the foster children of Tampa.
Over the last three decades Tiozzo — a Venice, Italy-born immigrant who died in at the age of 82 in May of this year — closed Donatellos' doors to the public and opened them for the underprivileged. When word spread, so did the involvement with organizations wanting to lend a helping hand. In the last decade, Donatello has welcomed thousands of people on turkey day. On Thursday, the Thanksgiving tradition will be carried on by the Tiozzo family and staff.
“This year, Guido will not be with us to wait on the children and the mothers and the fathers who will enjoy a regular Thanksgiving dinner but his wish was to share this day with the Tampa community, will be his legacy for the years to come,” the family said in a release.
This year, a traditional Thanksgiving Luncheon will be served to as many as 1200 Tampa community families including children of all ages from organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Hispanic Council, Children Cancer Center, Life Enrichment Center, Eckerd Community Alternative, and R.I.C.H. Police Program.
From 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. the day will be loaded with festivities including live holiday tunes provided by Bay area jazz legends Kitty Daniels and Majid Shabazz, actors playing characters of children's tales, and gifts for every guest handed out by volunteers alongside former Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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