More than 200 Christmas dinners were handed out on Thursday, Dec. 24 during the first takeout-style Flippin’ Bosses Christmas organized by Melodie Boyle of Boss Leaf and Mike Jourdy of Flippin’ Mike’s Restaurant in Tillsonburg.
“Thank you for doing this,” said one recipient outside Flippin’ Mike’s.
“It’s a little thing…” said Boyle handing out meals and presents to men, women, grateful parents and excited children outside Flippin’ Mike’s.
“It’s a big thing for us,” another woman replied.
“Nobody’s going to go unfed tonight,” said Jourdy, who spent most of his time in the kitchen, but occasionally stepped outside for quick breaks.
“Thanks, you’re a good man,” replied a man in the line.
“It’s feeling like Christmas out here,” Jourdy laughed as the snow fell.
Staff and volunteers inside Flippin’ Mike’s organized a ‘food assembly line’ to safely, quickly and efficiently get the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and mixed veggies into takeout containers (while wearing masks and gloves), and then get them outside to people waiting safely distanced, or the volunteer drivers.
“Hopefully this will brighten your day a little,” said a staff member handing out a bag of Christmas meals.
Jourdy started preparing some of the food Wednesday night. He closed the restaurant Thursday for the Christmas Eve event, and started early with some of the turkeys.
“We had four to six (turkeys) in the oven at a time, two ovens,” said Jourdy. “The potatoes were washed and cut last night… the dressing was done last night… a lot of prep in order to pull this off. We tried to make sure it was hot – it’s one thing to send out food, but we tried to keep it hot as best we could.
“I think everyone really appreciated the gesture,” Jourdy nodded.
“It’s not me, it’s everybody. It’s nice to see the town come together. I’m not from here, I’m from Toronto. I’ve not seen something like this. In Toronto, this is not really what you see. So it’s really nice.”
Jourdy remembered taking a call from a woman who had not been out during the pandemic.
“It was well worth it, I’d do it again, without a doubt,” said Jourdy. “This community has supported me since I opened, so it’s good to give back.”
“I think it’s fantastic,” said volunteer Cheryl McFarlane of Woodstock, noting they had employees, different business owners and their families, customers, and Unifor members all volunteering. “No connection other than their desire to help other people. That’s pretty cool.”
Ninety minutes after the event officially kicked off at 4 p.m., they still had a few more meals going out, including a large 10-meal order.
“I think it’s really good for the community,” said Amber Brown. “It feels good.”
And that’s what Brown will remember most about the night – “the feeling of doing good.”
“It’s just helping other people, that’s the best,” agreed Brenda Phillips. “It’s great, it’s been fantastic. It’s so nice to be able to give.”
Phillips estimated about 150-200 meals had been given out, and Jourdy confirmed it was 200-plus based on the number of takeout containers used.
The snow gave the event a Christmas feeling, said Phillips, but it also might have kept some people away, those not willing to venture out in wintery weather.
“It’s just a matter if they can get out in this kind of weather,” she said. “But a lot of people have been sending other people to pick them up.”
Volunteers from Unifor Local 1859 volunteered their time to deliver meals.
Rhonda and Leo Ford, two of the eight Unifor and family volunteers, arrived Thursday afternoon to drive but instead spent most of their time inside helping to package the food.
“We were supposed to (deliver),” said Leo. “We came in to get a delivery and they were swamped, so we just pitched in.”
Community pitching in for a good cause – helping the community – was the best part of the night, said Leo.
“A very successful night,” said Boyle. “I cannot stop smiling, it’s been a phenomenal night.”
Boyle, who coordinated the presents (estimating she gave out more than 200 toys) and helped hand out food, said she would remember how grateful people were.
“In the beginning, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal to us. But seeing how overwhelmed and grateful people were, that made it worth it. Every single person in here worked their butt off tonight and it was all worth it.
“One woman told me they wouldn’t have Christmas because they couldn’t afford it. So I gave here a little bit extra because we had so much, and she stood there crying. That’s profound. I think that speaks volumes as to the amount of need in our community.
“One woman said, ‘I’ve never asked before.’ But this year she said she saw how we were doing it and said, ‘I needed it this year.’”
Multiple donations were received from businesses toward the event, said Boyle, including hot chocolate donated by two local Tim Hortons – Michael and Christina Gazley and Drew and Kaila Van Der Jagt. Boyle thanked Special Occasion Cakes for the delicious desserts. She also thanked Michelle and James Wegg from No Dice Games for a generous cash donation, and Michelle’s hard work inside with Boyle.
Boyle summed up by thanking the Unifor drivers and everyone who made a cash or gift donation leading up to the event.
“We couldn’t have done it without everyone – this was a community thing. This wasn’t about Mike and I, this was about everyone. It was like a well-oiled machine.”
The leftover toys were going to be delivered to a women’s shelter, and the local OPP detachment gratefully accepted the leftover food that night.