DRACUT, MA – Hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life defied the heavy rains and strong winds on November 24 and responded to the invitation of Nick and Voula Manolis of Dracut, MA for the annual preparation and distribution of turkeys and baskets that contain all the necessary ingredients for a hot and hearty Thanksgiving meal.
They delivered 2,100 turkeys and baskets from which more than 11,000 people of various ages can enjoy a festive Thanksgiving meal, thanks to the Manolises and their two sons, Elias and Efthimios (Tim).
For the 21st consecutive year Manolis, owner of the Dracut House of Pizza & Seafood Restaurant in Dracut, shared the blessings that God has bestowed upon him and his family with those in need.
Manolis has named this expression of love and philanthropy “Project Helping Hands,” and it he, along with his wife and sons, organized it.
V. Rev. Archimandrite Leonard Faris, presiding priest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lowell, offered the prayer and blessed the volunteers before they began their deliveries.
The first year, they started with 30 turkeys. Nick and Voula even cooked the turkeys themselves, and delivered them to families in need.
Until a few years ago, the Manolises provided everything on their own. Five years ago, they established the Manolis Family Foundation in order to be able to accept tax-deductible donations.
Manolis told TNH “when I first came from Greece in 1966 with my parents and my sister, we did not have anything. I know what it is like 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.”
Tom Henson, Executive Director of the Loan Department of Aligned Bank one of the largest and most popular banks in the area was among the first ones helping. He told TNH that “we are here every year with our executive group supporting Nick Manolis.”
Volunteer Charles Canavos, who undergoes dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant, said “I can’t feel the Thanksgiving spirit if I don’t come here to help. I come every year.” About his friends, Nick and Voula Manolis, he says: “since I met them, my life has changed.”
Voula told TNH “I am so happy and enthused with all these people who came and help. It would be impossible to do it without them.”
“I can’t believe 21 years have passed already since we started,” Nick said. “I am so touched to see all these volunteers on such a stormy, rainy day. These are the people who make this project possible. Look at the young people, my sons and their friends. These young men and women will continue the project in the future.”
When Nick and Voula began this effort, their sons were small children and they grew up with it. Elias said “of course we are going to continue this project with my brother and our friends.”