Duo serving turkey, compassion
By Fred Bellet | Hernando TodayWEEKI WACHEE - For those attending the Thanksgiving meal at the Magnolia Terrace Tea Room on Thursday, please note there will be two lines: one marked "kindness," the other is marked "generosity."
Published: November 21, 2012
Published: November 21, 2012
Both lines will merge into one, and after you are seated, be prepared for a meal borne out of a recipe of which the main ingredient is "compassion."
Tea room owner Karen Hyde-Dennehy and her friend and employee Kim Barker are no strangers to helping those less fortunate.
Both helped Weeki Wachee High School's food pantry get started. And taking inspiration from the schools hornet mascot, it was aptly named Take the Sting out of Hunger.
Knowing that there were local families in need, they were compelled to put together a community Thanksgiving meal after what they heard from their kids.
"Both of our children go to Weeki Wachee High School," said Barker, "and it came to our attention that there were kids that were close to us, that we knew, who were actually going hungry and did not have food."
The two women sat down with Weeki Wachee High School principal Troy La Barbara, who indicated that there were many families in need. But most people are not aware of it
"There are certain families that get food stamps and they don't have enough," Hyde-Dennehy said.
"They're desperate. It's heartbreaking."
That was the motivating factor for the two women to host what they hope will be the first of many annual community Thanksgiving meals.
The two sought out food donations from regular customers, members of the local business community and a Spring Hill church. They all thought it was a great idea and pledged various foods to the list.
Lighthouse Publications and Joni Industries promised turkeys, while two Winn-Dixie stores kicked in vegetables and dinner rolls.
A ladies' Red Hat group and Big Lots came to the rescue with even more turkey, and the Church of Christ in Spring Hill donated vegetables and pies. Career Central at Forest Oaks and Spring Hill Printing Plus also offered their assistance in this undertaking.
Hyde-Dennehy and Barker have already begun cooking, and while it is unknown how many people will actually show up for the dinner, the fliers they had printed ask those who want to attend to make reservations.
Hyde-Dennehy and Barker are hoping to stagger out the times so there's no bottleneck of people waiting to eat. But they realize that may not be possible for some.
As far as numbers, "I really don't have any great expectations," said Hyde-Dennehy. "If we're flooded with people it will be wonderful. We know that we're helping them, making someone's day special."
The tea room has a capacity of more than 65. The women plan to get help from their husbands Michael and Ben to get a few more tables set up, maybe even some outside.
Basically this will be the project of two families and the tea room's staff.
Hunter Dennehy, 16; Morgan Dennehy, 11; Hailey Barker, 12; and Anthony Barker, 16, along with classmates from Weeki Wachee High School will be helping out as servers.
In the tea room's kitchen, Hyde-Dennehy and Barker have been busy cooking the turkeys, preparing the side dishes and slicing the pies.
Hyde-Dennehy said they will be open, "for anybody who needs a place to come."
"Anybody who is lonely for the day, has nowhere else to go, or can't afford to feed themselves or their family; we welcome them."
"To see a smile on a kid's face, or hear them say, 'oh, I'm so full,' that in itself is just a great reward," Barker chimed in.
The tea room staff will be getting help from Weeki Wachee High School students, the result of a sign-up sheet for volunteers initiated by La Barbara.
"It promotes sensitivity, compassion and character," La Barbara said.
The Thanksgiving meal will be served on Thanksgiving Day between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The Magnolia Terrace Tea Room is located at the Weeki Wachee Village shopping center at Commercial Way and Cortez Boulevard in Weeki Wachee.