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People First Event Giving Thanks with Homeless, At-Risk Guests

Nov 08, 2019

Serving 1,000+ Hot Meals, Feeding the Soul

Reading, Pa. – The 11th Annual People First Event is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at Queen City Family Restaurant, Reading, Pa., which will be closed for the day to the general public and will be festively filled with over 2,000 invited guests who are homeless or less fortunate. All guests will be treated to a warm, festive meal during the season of Thanksgiving, nourishing the mind, bodies and spirits of people who could use some encouragement.

More than 100 caring volunteers will assist with cooking meals, serving food, and handing out gift bags for men, women and children.

“Putting ‘People First’ is the true meaning of a selfless community where we build each other up and support our fellow neighbors. While we strive to live this truth every day, we also feel that having this annual event serves as an important reminder to the community at large that we can all make a difference in the lives of others – by encouraging others, volunteering for a cause, or sharing a meal,” said Elsayed “Steve” Elmarzouky, founder of People First and owner of Queen City Family Restaurant, Reading, Pa.

Community non-profit organizations helped identify and invite individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk. More than 2,000 invitations were personally distributed through Berks Coalition to End Homelessness and all social service agencies, food pantries and ministries across the county.

Donors include Berks Packing, Berks-Schuylkill Helping Harvest Fresh Food Bank, Feeser, Sysco, The Restaurant Store, US Foods, and Wyomissing Family Restaurant. Collectively, they donate the items needed to make a festive holiday dinner, including turkey, side dishes and desserts. The meals are prepared and served by staff and volunteers at Queen City Family Restaurant.

To accommodate the large number of people, Customer’s Bank is sponsoring a heated tent from Knight’s Rental, which serves as an extension of the restaurant to house more guests as well as the hub for holiday gifts.

Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU), Berks Conference of Churches, and Immanuel United Church of Christ, Shillington, worked intently to collect donations of hats, scarves and activity bags for children that volunteers wrapped in gift bags. Also, blankets are supplied by Blankets of Hope-Berks. Gift bags were made possible by Holleran Center for Community & Global Engagement at Alvernia, which also orchestrates the volunteer manpower, and Boscov’s.

BCIU provides transportation, and the Reading Police Department keeps traffic flowing safely in the vicinity. Anderson Group provides PR/marketing, planning support and volunteers.

The People First committee works hard to make the event reflect its true meaning of welcoming people in the community who ordinarily do not feel welcome. This event goes far beyond the meal. It is about giving back. People First supporters encourage other businesses to join them in their efforts and find a unique way to give back to their community.

About People First

In 2008, the People First event was founded by Elsayed Elmarzouky, owner of Queen City Family Restaurant in Reading, Pa., to help heal the community during slow economic times by giving individuals and families an emotional uplift. People First has dedicated its time and resources to helping those in the community who need a good meal and a welcoming atmosphere. People First event accomplishments at a glance:

  • 10,000+ individuals have been personally invited for a free meal and camaraderie.
  • 600+ volunteers to serve meals, transport guests, and provide a festive atmosphere.
  • 10+ businesses, vendors, non-profits and agencies to provide food, gifts and community compassion.
  • Endless smiles, tears of joy, and the genuine gift of giving to those in need to remind each guest that there is hope, and they deserve respect.

Elmarzouky’s vision is a national movement where businesses from communities all over the nation find a special way to give back and to encourage community unity.

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