BELFAST— Order up! For the third Thanksgiving in a row, Traci’s Diner (57 Maine Street) is the place where people come for a hot Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, squash, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and a choice of apple, pumpkin or chocolate pie. The price of the meal is just a donation. Some can only afford to give less than five dollars; others plunk down a hundred.
All of this food has been donated by local companies or made from scratch and every single person, from the cooks to the servers to the Red Knights of Maine Chapter IX, a non-profit motorcycle club for fire fighters, EMS personnel, and their families, are volunteering their time this Thanksgiving. No one is making a dime or any tips off this special day. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. their focus is on feeding people and making them feel welcome.
Brandy Watson Bowles, a server at Traci’s Diner, finishes up bringing hot plates to a couple at a table and sits down briefly for a chat. “We’re doing this for the Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, based out of Orono,” she said. “It’s not a state-funded organization, but they go a step beyond. They buy Christmas gifts for children in foster care and they also fill backpacks for school.”
Watson Bowles adopted two little girls of her own and became involved with the organization several years ago. “They really helped me out when I adopted my girls, so when they reached out about working with The Red Knights of Maine, they were the ones we [at Traci’s Diner] wanted to give back to. This is the kind of organization that does what they say they are going to do—100% of proceeds aren’t going to some corporation. The money all goes to buying gifts for kids in foster care.”
Traci Mailloux, owner of Traci’s Diner, is busy working with her cooks and the Red Knights to keep the food coming. “We’ve all known each other for years and years,” she said. “After the first year we did this, I thought afterwards, I don’t think I could do a Thanksgiving without offering this again. I love it. The people coming in absolutely love it. And it’s not about how much we get in donations; we don’t turn anyone away. It’s what the holidays are all about. I just want to thank not only the Red Knights, but my whole crew here at the diner. They’ve really been my family as well as our customers.”
To learn more about Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine visit: www.affm.net