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“It brings tears to my eyes that so many need this,” Stegner said.
The dinner started several years ago when Jacob Rosales was working both at Olive Garden and volunteering at the soup kitchen, said Jason Jacobs, general manager at the restaurant. Rosales asked to bring a tray of lasagna to the soup kitchen, but the restaurant eventually decided to cater the whole Thanksgiving meal. It’s continued ever since.
Jim Smith, of Springfield, said he’s attended the meal with friends almost every year, and it’s become a tradition.
“Fred’s a heck of a guy,” Smith said of Stegner. “He helps a lot of people.”
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It also benefits the restaurant’s employees, Jacobs said.
“I have some team members who are away from their family,” Jacobs said. “They love the idea they get to go help people.”