A Christmas I'll Never Forget
Oak Lawn residents pour out to help with Christmas dinners at Mr. Gyros.
This was my best Christmas ever. I have been volunteering on the holidays for Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly for 15 years. It was something I realized I could do after my family left the nest and there was a need. Unfortunately, Little Brothers only serves seniors in the city. It was the only organization I knew so I lent them my support. I did not have to make large dinners. I was invited to other family members' homes who put up with me as I have been known to bring more than just me.
This year was different. I could volunteer in Oak Lawn. Earlier this month I read about Sandi Digangi and Eddie Memeshi on Patch, who own Mr. Gyros at 10806 S. Cicero Ave. They wanted to thank the community for helping to make their restaurant a success during their first year of business. They decided to open their restaurant on Christmas and provide home-cooked turkey dinners for seniors, the homeless, the working poor and unemployed.
I, on the other hand, though of the logistics involved in what Sandi and Eddie's gift to the community. They wanted to deliver and serve Christmas dinners and their small storefront restaurant. I asked them what they needed. I told them I would help all I can. I helped distribute fliers. What else? They needed a Santa suit. Sandi didn't want to buy one. I found a Santa suit through St. Gerald's Holy Name Society. Channel 4 got involved, as well as brothers Bill and John Zawaski. John Zawaski said he was making some calls.
Sandi smiles when she tells this story. A guy came in to talk to Sandi about the dinner. He proceeded to tell her what she would need a heated tent, tables and chairs to put in the parking lot. Sandi told this guy: "Look, mister, I have food and helpers. We will make do with what we got. I don't have money for tents, tables and chairs, the man smiled. He said it could be worked out.
Sandi got a call thirty minutes later. The tents, tables, chairs and heaters would be delivered Christmas morning along with sawhorses to close off the parking lot. Mayor Dave Heillman, villagers who were having dinner in their homes—all were on call if Sandi needed them. They would be available to deliver or serve dinners, whatever was needed. It was the best Christmas ever working side by side with neighbors helping neighbors. On Christmas Day, I was proud to be a resident of Oak Lawn.