STEUBENVILLE - Seven-year-old Nicole Zullo has already learned about Thanksgiving and what the holiday means for her family.
Nicole will join her mother, grandmother, aunt and siblings Thursday morning to put the final touches on a Thanksgiving dinner for approximately 250 people.
"I want to give thanks on Thursday and share with people who have no family to be with on Thanksgiving. This is also a way for us to worship," explained the Wintersville Elementary pupil.
PREPARING A FEAST — Family members gathered Tuesday night to start preparing the food at Plain Jane’s Restaurant on South Fourth Street in Steubenville. The business will be offering its fifth-annual community Thanksgiving dinner Thursday free of charge. Checking the turkey, were, from left, Nicole Zullo, Emily Zullo, Sarah Zullo, Briggs Zullo and Kate Kennedy. - Dave Gossett
This is the fourth year for Nicole to join family members who gather annually at the family owned Plain Jane's Restaurant on South Fourth Street to offer a free community dinner.
"I come to help my grandma with the food," declared 6-year-old Briggs Zullo.
"I am glad we can invite people who are looking for a Thanksgiving meal and maybe some company to come to Plain Jane's for a couple of hours. The food is delicious and free and everyone is always welcome here. Everyone is part of the Plain Jane's family," added Kate Kennedy, a seventh-grader at Bishop John King Mussio Junior High School.
Restaurant owner Dawn Zullo and her family started the free community Thanksgiving dinner in November 2008.
"This is a chance to teach our children humility," noted Dawn Zullo.
"I'll start deep frying the eight turkeys around 8 a.m. We have a large dining room next door that we will open up and we will be serving people a delicious, hot and free Thanksgiving meal from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday
"This is our way of giving back to the community. We are thankful for what we have, and we want to help others. And anyone who wants to help can call us at (740) 284-0030. We need volunteers for the prep work, serving and cleaning up after the dinner. It is work, but it is also rewarding," added Dawn Zullo.
"We have already started receiving donations for the dinner. And we will all pitch in to make this work," she explained.
"The first year we saw about 130 people stop by for the dinner. Last year it was up to 250 people. No one is a stranger on Thanksgiving and we are open to everyone. There are people who live downtown who may not have the transportation to go somewhere and we welcome them. There may be someone who is looking for company or someone who needs a little help. They are are welcome to come to the Thanksgiving dinner," Dawn Zullo said.
"As long as we own this restaurant I want to make sure we host this Thanksgiving dinner and this will be our family's Thanksgiving. This is a chance for all of us to remember what we have to be thankful for this year and give to others," Dawn Zullo noted.
"I have dragged my family and friends into helping with the dinner. It can be hectic at times, but it's rewarding," said Dawn Zullo.
Sarah Zullo, Dawn's daughter-in-law, said the Zullo family feels blessed to be part of the community.
"And we want to share our blessings with everyone who stops by Thursday," she added.
Sarah Zullo said the Thanksgiving menu will include turkey, mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, vegetables, pasta, calico beans, stuffing, rolls, assorted deserts, coffee and iced tea.
"We always have enough for everyone, and we make everyone feel welcome," she said.