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Sunshine Café offers free holiday dinner

Thanksgiving is more than a national holiday to Dianne and Allen Drake.

The couple won't be found lounging around the house, watching football or traveling out of town to visit family and friends. But there will be food involved - lots and lots of food.

The Drakes, owners of Sunshine Café in Sequim, plan to celebrate Thanksgiving by offering a free community harvest dinner at the restaurant from noon-5 p.m. on Nov. 27.

"It's a circle of giving," Dianne Drake said. "They've given to us and we give back to them."

The tradition started seven years ago. This will be the sixth dinner; no meal was offered last year. The Drakes are expecting more than 100 customers. Some are widows or widowers who have nobody to share the day with; others are older couples with no family in town. It's not uncommon for younger people and families to walk through the door either.

If two singles show up for dinner, sometimes the staff seats them together "because nobody should have to spend Thanksgiving alone," Drake said.

Dressing the turkey is her favorite part. She cooks two turkeys a day for three days in a row. "There's no more turkey for the year after that though," she joked.

A donation bucket is set out every year, filled with money and donated to a charity of choice. This year, donations will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in honor of a much-loved and dearly missed friend who recently died from cancer, she said.

"It's hard to find something to be thankful for this year because of the way the economy is," she said, "but that just makes it all the more important for us to do this."

Our customers give to us every day," she continued, "Without them, we wouldn't be able to keep going. In all honesty, we get more out of it than they do. Yes, they get a free meal but giving is so much more satisfying."

When the day is over, the couple doesn't indulge in a private celebration. They eat leftovers at the restaurant with their customers. "The community is our family," she said firmly.

Guests are advised to RSVP for dinner so the Drakes know how much food to prepare. Reservations can be made by calling 683-4282.

The café, located at 135 W. Washington St., is one of several peninsula sites offering Thanksgiving services to the community.

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