Special Thanksgiving delivery
O’Fallon restaurateur organizes effort to deliver 10,000 dinners to needy families on Thanksgiving Day
By Brett Auten
With a lot of help, Scott Ellinger will reach his lofty goal of making Thanksgiving Day a little more special for families in need.
Ellinger is the owner and of the Brass Rail, located at 4601 State Highway K in O’Fallon. Ellinger and the Brass Rail Team have set a goal to deliver 10,000 dinners to needy families on Thanksgiving Day.
“It has been insane,” Ellinger said. “Our first year, we fed 105 people, then it was 1,300 and now we are going for 10,000.”
The Brass Rail and its adjacent TBR Prime Steak Market boasts the motto: “Thousands of volunteers feeding thousands of families.” The past weekend was filled with volunteers preparing gravy and cranberry sauce alongside 2,000 pounds of mashed potatoes. Thanks to a Kids Night, where children helped sort vegetables and stuffing, the sides were ready for the main course. The St. Louis Barbecue Society and several food trucks cooked thousands of turkeys in the Brass Rail parking lot. In all, 16,000 portion cups and 8,000 aluminum foil pans will be filled.
On the days before and on Thanksgiving Day, there will be hundreds of volunteers packing up the meals and delivering them to those in need, as well as to area shelters, within a 60-mile radius of the restaurant. The Brass Rail restaurant will be open throughout the day to serve first responders, police and firefighters, as well as the needy, a free made-from-scratch, buffet-style meal Thanksgiving meal.
The restaurant will also include warm hats and gloves with the meal.
“We had volunteers coming back from deliveries last year telling us that they went to houses with no electricity, or saw kids with no hats and no gloves,” Ellinger said.
Ellinger doesn’t ask families or individuals to meet any particular qualifications, just simply call and choose whether they want their Thanksgiving Day dinner to be dine-in or delivery.
“We are not necessarily feeding people who are living under the bridge, though we do see some of that,” Ellinger said. “But these mostly these are people in need and if they are able to save that $30-$40-$50 that it would cost for a Thanksgiving and put it towards keeping the power turned on or paying a bill, then this is worth it for us.”
Ellinger relies strictly on volunteers and as of press time, still needs help with delivery drivers. Volunteers will deliver meals everywhere from Cahokia, Illinois, to Washington, Missouri.
“We are still needing delivery drivers for Thursday and if anyone wants to donate homemade desert for the buffet,” Ellinger said.
Ellinger, 48, opened the Brass Rail seven years ago. The restaurant started the dinners in 2014 and it has grown exponentially ever since.
“I never knew how much need there was,” he said. “We would get hassled about helping people in St. Charles County as opposed to St. Louis city. There are people in need here. You forget that every school district has kids who take home food for the weekend. These families can’t afford eggs or an apple, how can they afford a Thanksgiving dinner?
Ellinger asks that all calls – whether to volunteer or to recommend/request a meal – go to 636-329-1349.
“We will take it from there and make sure that we feed as many as we can,” he said.
CUTLINE: Brett Auten Photo Brass Rail owner Scott Ellinger is spearheading a goal to deliver 10,000 dinners to needy families on Thanksgiving Day. Ellinger asks that all calls – whether to volunteer or to recommend/request a meal – go to 636-329-1349.