By Lauren Wanko
For Marilyn and Richard Schlossbach preparing a Thanksgiving meal has become a family tradition. A family tradition that includes feeding strangers. “There’s no one excluded in our world, they become like family,” said Richard Schlossbach.
At Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park this brother and sister along with hundreds of other volunteers have been preparing a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone in need for nearly 10 years. It all started with Pat Sherman, founder of Feeding Frenz, a local non-profit dedicated to caring for those in the community. For years she cooked and served a holiday meal wherever she could find free space then she met restaurant owner Marilyn, they teamed up and haven’t looked back since.
When asked why it is so important for her to do this Pat answered “because that’s what the holidays and that’s what life is all about, giving back to other people. How sad would it be if I just sat back and only took care of me?”
Corporations and individuals donate money, turkeys, hams, and desserts.
Marilyn continued “we do all the sides cause we found in the beginning it was really complicated to know what kind of food we were gonna get and we wanted some stability for guests.”
Guest expressed their gratitude. Eric McBride said “I appreciate it, I look forward to it every year.” Sheldon Brown added, “It’s speechless for words, I can’t even express it, I can’t put it in words.” “We didn’t have any place else to go for Thanksgiving. Everybody is so nice here,” continued Audra Hartsgrove. Sol Maria Roman said, “I come here every year, they do a very good job.”
Over the years this Thanksgiving feast has brought comfort to Marilyn too, her parents passed away 30 years ago around the holidays. “So holidays for me, for the most part of my life, were really sad and depressing and hard to process when we started doing this you can’t get sad you feel so good when you help so many people.”
After the meal, all of today’s guests are invited into this makeshift pantry. There’s canned food and piles and piles of clothing. All of the items are donated and each guest can leave with a bag-full.
“Maybe the economy’s growing and things are getting better, but there’s still a lot of people that really need,” Richard remarked.
Guests are invited back for a free Christmas and Easter dinner too. Pat says locals look forward to their annual tradition. “They’ll see my truck and they’ll be like Pat, when’s dinner, what are you feeding us!? They’re so happy and that’s why we do it.”
Diners also leave with a to-go-box filled with a turkey sandwich.
Marilyn added, “even though the holidays are a time all these people can go to various places and get a meal, what happens tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday? So we try to give them something more to take home.
Marilyn hopes to cherish these moments with own children as they grow. “Your holidays should be a memory, however you spend it and I was able to change my very sad, negative memory, into a very positive memory and I want to do that for people.”