Turkey day isn’t just a time to give thanks for a loving family, good friends and and that oh-so-delicious pumpkin pie. It’s also a time to give back. At least that’s the code Andy Walsh, 34, co-owner of Mickey’s Irish Pub in Waukee, lives by.
“I think it’s just basic ethics,” Walsh said. “I was raised to believe that you take care of people who take care of you. The Waukee community has taken care of us.”
That philanthropic spirit is why he and his wife, Amy, started their annual Thanksgiving feast at Mickey’s last November. Inspired by a similar program at Davenport’s Machine Shed, the Walsh family rallied volunteers and received food donations from outside vendors to throw a free-of-charge Thanksgiving lunch for anyone who wanted to attend.
Donations were accepted from those who could afford it, and the money raised went toward helping an employee at the restaurant, whose child was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder, pay off treatment- related expenses.
“The situation kind of motivated everyone to get behind the idea and to help out,” Walsh said. “Their bill situation has improved, and so has the diagnosis.”
This time around, Mickey’s is partnering with the Waukee Food Pantry to collect both funds and canned food items throughout November. With more families than ever stretching their budgets, Walsh said it’s important to support the victims of a rough economy.
“There are a lot of people who come in and shop for groceries at the food pantry. You probably know them. They don’t wear it on their sleeves because they’re not proud of it,” Walsh said. “But their shelves are very picked over this time of year.”
Thanks to the couple and their band of volunteers, Mickey’s will be open Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a free meal, complete with turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and other holiday classics. Last year’s event event attracted about 170 people, ranging from those who couldn’t afford a big dinner to people who just donated the money that they would have spent on their meal. Also, Mickey’s will repay each nonperishable canned food item donated in November with a “Mickey’s Buck,” good for a dollar off your purchase.
But this event doesn’t mean Mickey’s is bursting with cash — they’re still a young business in a tough market. Instead they’re contributing with the resources they do have.
“I do believe that businesses have a responsibility, especially in smaller towns, to give back to some extent,” Walsh said. “But I, personally, would rather help than write a check. We have the facilities, we can get volunteers, we have a nice kitchen, we’ve got seating, and we have the means to do so much more with events like this.”
And this time of year, Walsh said, is about giving what you can. “You have to find ways to help out the people who have taken care of you.”
Thanksgiving feast at Mickey’s in Waukee
What: The bar’s annual free Thanksgiving meal and fundraiser
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday
Where: 50 S.E. Laurel St., Waukee
Cost: Free. Donations are accepted, both of canned food and money.
Info: 987-9604; mickeyswaukee.com