ST. CHARLES – Alexander’s Cafe in St. Charles will host its second annual holiday dinner for guests from Lazarus House at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16.
The restaurant hosted the event for the first time a year ago, when more than 30 people attended from Lazarus House.
“We’re starting a new tradition here,” said Alexander’s Cafe owner Nick Smith. “We want to make it an annual experience.”
Smith said he wants to brighten the holiday season for Lazarus House clients and to show appreciation to the shelter for the programs it provides.
Located in St. Charles, Lazarus House provides emergency shelter, transitional living, food and a range of support services for men, women and children in need of help.
Lazarus House Executive Director Liz Eakins commended Smith for hosting the event.
“He’s got a huge heart for people,” Eakins said.
Eakins said that the restaurant’s hospitality means a lot to Lazarus clients.
“It was just an amazing experience for everyone involved last year,” she said. “For the folks that we serve, who feel they have lost everything – they understand that they haven’t been forgotten and that they are still a part of the community.”
In conjunction with the dinner, Alexander’s Cafe is holding a food, toy and clothing drive for Lazarus House.
During restaurant hours from now until Dec. 16, Alexander’s Cafe will have receptacles placed outside its building at 1650 W. Main St. for drop-off contributions of canned goods and new or gently used clothing and toy gifts.
Before last year’s event, people donated items filling 12 huge boxes, which went back to the shelter with the guests on a bus after the dinner. Spare Wheels provided transportation for them to and from the restaurant.
“Spare Wheels once again is donating their time and equipment, which is really great,” Smith said.
Festive decorations at Alexander’s Cafe will include a holiday tree hanging upside-down from the ceiling and a miniature model train on the fireplace mantel. Santa Claus may even make an appearance, a treat for young family members attending from the shelter.
When Santa appeared during the dinner last year, the children there “were over the moon about it,” said Smith. “Their eyes lit up.”
Alexander’s Cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, except on Thanksgiving. That day, the restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. for drop-off donations.