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Kitchen Consigliere Hosts Thanksgiving Dinner for Needy Collingswood Families

Chef-owner Angelo Lutz partnered with volunteers from the First United Methodist Church to give some needy families a happy start to the holiday season.

Kitchen Consigliere played host to 16 needy families on Thanksgiving Eve. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
Kitchen Consigliere played host to 16 needy families on Thanksgiving Eve. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
Angelo Lutz has long been a believer in second chances—a refrain he echoed when supporters of the new location of his Kitchen Consigliere restaurant helped him open his doors with Kickstarter funds.

So when the holidays rolled around, Lutz wanted to share some of that goodwill with other members of the community that helped him get his restaurant off the ground.

The day before Thanksgiving, Kitchen Consigliere opened its doors to 16 Collingswood families—59 people in all—serving up a hot holiday dinner on a cold, rainy afternoon.

Kitchen Consigliere Business Manager Martin Schieken credited a number of volunteers, from Lee Stauts and Carol Beals at the United Methodist Church to DiBartolo Bakery, with making the event a success. Next year, organizers want to expand the feast to 200 families and the borough community center.

Schieken said that Zane North Elementary School Principal Thomas Santo especially helped identify dinner guests who could likely benefit from the kindness of their neighbors. He described the event as giving some of Collingswood's needy families "dignity in an afternoon of joy."

"We told [Santo] our criteria," Schieken said; "they have to have a problem where maybe a family member is sick, maybe they didn't pay a bill."

Further sweetening the deal, each dinner guest was given a $50 Wal-Mart gift card, with an additional $25 Toys 'R' Us gift card for each child present, all paid for with the proceeds of an art sale held during the opening night celebration at Lutz's new location.

"What good is the money in the bank?" Schieken said. "It's for the families."

For a look at the festive atmosphere of the day, click the video above.

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