DANVERS — At Debby Marticio’s house, the phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from those in need seeking a free Thanksgiving meal.
As in years past, the former Ma Duke’s restaurant owner and her family are gearing up to cook 1,000 to 1,500 free Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings, most of them to be delivered in and around the North Shore.
“We have 700 meals already (to be delivered),” said Lisa Mahoney, Marticio’s daughter, who worked for her mother for six years.
Marticio and her family are cooking and serving the meals at the American Legion Post 227 on River Street in Middleton. Meals will also go to people in Beverly, Gloucester, Ipswich, Salem and Lynn, among other communities, Mahoney said. The family has even received a request to make 75 meals for homeless veterans in Manchester, N.H. The Danvers Treatment Center is scheduled to get 150 meals, and the Inn Transition housing program for those in recovery in Peabody will also get meals.
They also plan to deliver meals to homeless families being sheltered by the state in Danvers’ budget motels, Marticio said.
Marticio said plans are to prep the food from noon to midnight the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Cooking starts at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving, and the meals will be served starting at 10 a.m. She estimates she has 100 volunteers to help out, but she could always use more.
“I could use more people for delivery, especially Thanksgiving day starting at 10:30 or 11” in the morning, Marticio said.
One of the greatest needs is cash, Marticio said. She estimates the meals will cost $15,000, and so far, she has raised about half of that. A raffle held earlier this month at the Onion Town Grill netted $800, helping to defray the costs. Her expenses include $2,000 for paper goods, $2,000 for produce, and she may have to buy 40 to 50 turkeys. She estimated it will take 150 birds to feed everyone.