Elias Manolis and his wife Elena manage the distribution. (Photo provided by The Manolis Family Foundation)
BOSTON – The Manolis family of Dracut, Massachusetts will do it again this year – for 28th time: they are providing a festive dinner for Thanksgiving Day to more than ten thousand people of various ages and of every nationality, religion, race, and educational level. They provided the turkeys and all the trimmings required for the preparation of a decent warm meal for 2,000 families, schools, institutions, and homes.
The Manolis family are the owners of the Dracut House of Pizza & Seafood Restaurant and they share the blessings that God has bestowed upon them with those in need. Certainly, there are so many people, especially today, who are in need of a ‘helping hand’, and the Manolis family offers exactly that.
Nicholas Manolis told The National Herald that, “when I first came from Greece in 1966 with my parents and my sister, we did not have anything. I know what it is not to have even the most basic things in life. I remember how difficult it was for me to see my friends buying lunch, but I couldn’t afford it.” He said, “we all should do something; and named his family’s expression of love and philanthropy, Project Helping Hands.
The preparation of the bags with the turkeys and all the trimmings for deliveries is done by the volunteers.
The Manolis family does not give only on Thanksgiving Day but throughout the year to those in need. On Christmas they donate ham to the Food Pantry. They also give five scholarships of $500 annually to college students who have good grades and also do volunteer work.
The first year, 28 years ago, they started with 30 turkeys. Nicholas and Voula Manolis even cooked the turkeys themselves, and delivered them to families in need because they did not have an oven in their homes to cook the turkeys.
Until a few years ago, the Manolis family provided everything on their own. A few years ago, they established the Manolis Family Foundation, a non-profit organization in order to be able to accept tax deductible donations.
Businessmen, bankers, police officers, CEO’s, computer specialists, volunteers from all walk of life donate their time and make the deliveries to schools, food pantries, churches, veterans centers, and of course homes. Everything is done in a strictly organized and confidential manner.
Elias Manolis, a young successful businessman, walks in his parents’ footsteps in continuing this sacred and humane mission. In an interview with TNH he said, “we will distribute this over 2,000 turkeys and ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, feeding over 10,000 people.”
Asked how the pandemic has affected their efforts, he said, “this year has been the most challenging year yet. The pandemic and global supply chain crisis made it very difficult to acquire products. For example, our primary supplier canceled our order of over 2,000 turkeys, 5,000 canned vegetables, and 5,000 cans of gravy a week before our project. We scrambled day in and day out going from store to store until we were able to purchase the amounts we needed. Many people told us to “just give up” and “cancel the project this year,” but we refused. The sleepless nights and early mornings going store to store were exhausting, but it was worth it knowing we would achieve our goal this year.” He also said, “this year the project was completely outdoors, so we were able to have volunteers, unlike last year. This year we had over 100 volunteers.”
The Manolis family this year also provided the turkeys and all the necessary ingredients for the Thanksgiving meal that the Maliotis Center organizes Greek-American students and also for the students of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Elias said, “we reached out to several Greek organizations this year and the Maliotis Center let us know they were organizing a Thanksgiving dinner for the students of Holy Cross and Greek students from all over Massachusetts. We were more than happy to donate all the ingredients necessary for their Thanksgiving dinner.”
Asked how he feels about continuing his parents’ ‘sacred mission,’ he said, “I feel so fulfilled continuing my parent’s mission. They have taught me that, ‘if you give with one hand, God gives you back with both.’ Those are words I live by. Philanthropy is a huge part of my life – I love being involved in the community and love helping those in need.”
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