DeKALB – Bonnie Riley took a seat at one of her favorite restaurants Sunday, but not to indulge in the cuisine she has come to love.
Instead, Riley set up a table of coloring books and card games to help the owners and staff of Flippin Eggs in DeKalb serve a free community dinner Sunday in what has become an annual tradition for the restaurant.
For the seventh year in a row, Scott and Maria Morrow offered a free holiday dinner and gift for those in need at their restaurant from 4 to 7 p.m. Riley said it was the owners’ philanthropic spirit that makes Flippin Eggs a special place for customers.
“They’ve always been so nice and generous and make you feel like family,” Riley said of the Morrows. “I love to see the giving and generosity of the community here.”
The giving was at an all-time high as the front of the restaurant was a wall of gifts; those wanting to eat had a 15-minute wait by 4:30 p.m.
Maria Morrow credited the success and growth of the event to her customers who volunteer and donate gifts and her staff members who are eager to serve.
“We couldn’t do this without the community,” she said. “We’re blessed to be able to give back during Christmas.”
The Morrows helped more than just those who came for a meal during the three-hour window Sunday because leftover gifts went to Hope Haven or Safe Passage. Bruce Linsenmann, another regular who volunteered Sunday, said it is the selflessness of the Morrows that trickles down to the customers, which is why there is always more than enough gifts and assistance for the event.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” he said in between serving plates of ham and spaghetti dinners. “I think it’s fantastic what they do here, and it’s easy to see their customers respond to their call for help.”
Staff members such as Toni Ortega also donated their time. Ortega, a DeKalb High School student who has worked at the restaurant for two months, said she fell in love with the people at Flippin Eggs the first time she went there, which caused her to pursue a job with the diner.
“I’m good with people, so I wanted to help today,” she said. “It seems like everybody is happy.”
Last year, the diner served more than 150 people and collected more than 400 gifts. Morrow expects those numbers grew this year.
“It’s been a roller coaster here, but the community has been very good to us,” she said. “We just want to pay them back anyway we can.”