DeKALB – The gifts are piling up at Flippin Eggs.
They line the front counter next to the cash register and are piled on a shelf above the front window. They are wrapped in colorful paper, tied with pretty ribbon and waiting to go home Saturday with those who come to Flippin Eggs’ eighth free holiday dinner.
Typically, Flippin Eggs owners Scott and Maria Morrow see a last-minute rush of gifts donated before their dinner, so they are pleased to have about 250 gifts by the Tuesday before the meal.
On Saturday, they’ll open the restaurant at 831 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb from 5 to 8 p.m. for about 220 people. The family and about 20 volunteers will serve pork chops and ham to those who can’t afford a nice holiday meal or those who don’t have family nearby.
“It’s nice to have a lot of volunteers because if people are alone, we have them sit with other people or we’ll sit down and talk with them,” Scott Morrow said.
Each diner will leave with two presents, and any leftover presents will be donated to Safe Passage, the domestic violence agency, and Hope Haven, the homeless shelter. Area residents can drop off wrapped gifts, labeled for the gender and age range for which they are best suited, during regular business hours from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The dinner itself is just the Morrows’ way of giving back.
“Growing up, both my wife and I didn’t have a lot of money,” Scott Morrow said.
During the event, Tom and Bonnie Riley typically show up to entertain folks, Tom dressed as an elf and Bonnie armed with coloring books and card games.
Two years ago, the Conley family surprised everyone with their singing, which prompted the Morrows’ then-6-year-old daughter, Alexus, to climb on a chair and give a performance, too.
Maybe you, dear readers, could conjure up a surprise to make this year more fun? You know, if you know magic tricks. Or how to ride a unicycle.
Speaking of giving: The extra gifts from the holiday dinner will be donated to Hope Haven and Safe Passage, but don’t let that stop you from donating directly to either organization, if you are so inclined.
Hope Haven, which saw a $20,000 cut in one federal grant last year and a $10,000 cut to another federal grant this year, receives an outpouring of support from the community during the holiday season, Executive Director Lesly Wicks said. But its most serious needs continue to be cash and supply donations, not toys.
Leaders at the homeless shelter, which houses 35 children, give the children several gifts during the holidays and stash extra gifts for birthdays or other special occasions, such as a child making honor roll at school, Wicks said. For more information about the donations that top Hope Haven’s wish list, call the organization’s office at 815-758-3166.
As far as Safe Passage, leaders provide gifts for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, whether they are receiving walk-in services or staying in the shelter or transitional housing, said Marj Askins, community education and prevention specialist at Safe Passage. They maintain a space of donated, unwrapped gifts where parents can select appropriate items for their children.
“We like to collect donations for kids in such a way that moms and dads can shop for their kids among the donations,” Askins said.
Some of the best gifts for clients are comfort items: high-quality lotions, nicer bed linens, body wash and things like that, Askins said.
To find the organization’s wish list for donations, see www.safepassagedv.org. The best time to drop off donations is between 9 and 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, but donors can call 815-756-7930 to make other arrangements.
A gift for yourself: When I moseyed down to Flippin Eggs on Tuesday to check on the gift drive, I treated myself to breakfast for lunch. I enjoyed their pumpkin French toast, which came with a cream cheese filling, whipped cream – and yes, syrup to drizzle over all that.
Another special they presently are offering is gummy bear pancakes, which I hear hasn’t been as popular as the pumpkin offerings. Next month, they’ll have Oreo pancakes. Oreo cookies are crushed and mixed in with the batter, and the finished pancake is topped with a frosting not dissimilar from Oreo filling.
It might be the perfect treat for yourself after the busy holiday season.
• Jillian Duchnowski is the Daily Chronicle’s news editor. Reach her at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.