Debby Marticio, also known as Ma Duke, has been in a bit of a panic lately, knowing that this year Thanksgiving falls early, on Nov. 23. That means time is tight to raise money and prepare to serve 2,500 free Thanksgiving meals to the needy. She has already ordered 625 pounds of ham, and she needs to order the paper goods and produce. Those three items will cost $6,000, and she has been seeking donations to be able to put on the meal. This year, Ma Duke's and Friends 11th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner is moving back to Middleton, to the American Legion Post 227, 69 River St. The dinner is for those down on their luck, veterans, those without a home or anyone who does not have a place to go for a turkey meal with all the fixings. All ages are welcome to the dinner, which will consist of ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, casseroles, a variety of side dishes and dessert. The Middleton venue is a change from the past three years, Marticio said. "American Legion is donating their services there," said Marticio. The legion also donated space for an Oct. 15 fundraiser that provided $2,300 in four hours. In addition to the sit-down dinner, "we deliver all over the North Shore," said Marticio, including to veterans homes in Lowell, Lawrence and Beverly, senior housing, addiction treatment centers and to anyone who cannot get out. Some 200 to 300 volunteers help prepare the meals the night before and deliver them the next day. "We have so much help, it's great," she said in between taking orders at Jimmy's Famous Beef and Seafood on High Street, where she works the counter from opening to closing, seven days a week. Marticio started preparing Thanksgiving meals for the needy when she owned her own restaurant, Ma Duke's, on Maple Street. When the restaurant closed, she moved the meal elsewhere. She started by serving 150 meals, but that has grown every year. "I love doing it," she said. "I love seeing people happy." Marticio is seeking donations through a Gofundme page, www.gofundme.com/madukesthanksgiving2017. While reservations are not required for the meal, they are requested so that Marticio can plan. Call is 978-578-4718 to make a reservation, ask for a meal delivery, or volunteer or donate supplies.
by Ethan Forman firstname.lastname@example.org