Aegis Foundation planning Thanksgiving dinner for homeless youth at Aria

Homeless youth are invited to enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 28 with help from Aegis Foundation, Hennepin County Medical Center and Aria.

For its first year, the Aegis Foundation will provide more than f400  meals prepared by HCMC’s executive chef and a dance party hosted by DJ Digie at the Aria in the North Loop.

Dinner attendees will also have the opportunity to enter their name in giveaways and receive a bus token upon leaving. 

Aegis Foundation is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to giving back to youth organizations. They hold several events throughout the year, including the High Heel Dash in August and the Oscar and Grammy nights in February. The idea of having a free Thanksgiving meal transpired when the Aegis Foundation team was brainstorming more events to hold. 

“Sandy Simmons, Brian Trinh, and I thought, ‘What could we do in the fall?’ and ‘Who could benefit most?’” said William Panzarella, founder and executive officer of the Aegis Foundation. “We thought, ‘What if we did something for Thanksgiving?’”

Panzarella’s team at Aegis Foundation knew that hosting a Thanksgiving meal would help a large community and make them feel special. “We’ll play games all day and an executive chef is preparing a nice, traditional Thanksgiving dinner.” 

Planning for the event began mid-September and in just about a week, the location and food services were booked, and 40 volunteer positions were filled. “It’s amazing that the community came together,” Panzarella said. 

HCMC Executive Chef Antonio Sanchez and his 16-person team will prepare the meal, which will include turkey breasts donated by Ferndale Market, as well as other Thanksgiving fare, including mashed potatoes and gravy, and various vegetables. For dessert, an assortment of pies will be available. 

During the event, guests will receive hygiene packs, which include soap, shampoo and other necessities, and may enter to win one of the two bicycles donated by Full Cycle. TVs and Wiis donated by AV For You and music by DJ Digie will provide entertainment for the event. 

“We’re working with local youth shelters right now and we may surpass the 400 [expected]” Panzarella said. 

The Thanksgiving meal will be held from 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Dinner will be served from 1 p.m.–3 p.m. and is free for all homeless youth up to age 21.

A $12.50 donation will provide one full meal for the event. To donate, visit their website or call 612.280.4256.