What is better to celebrate the holidays than to show gratitude and to give the gift of giving?
Ema Haq, owner of Bailey’s Seafood & Grill has been showing his appreciation to the community for the last three decades, by opening his restaurant doors, to all.
This year, Haq hosted his 30th, annual Thanksgiving celebration, providing free, hot meals and desserts, all for free.
Haq partners with volunteers from the community to provide a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Customers are encouraged to dine inside, picked-up or delivered.
This year, KATC reached out to several attendees and many of Haq’s customers said they are forever grateful for his good deeds.
“We have so many people in our community, our brothers and sisters that are not as fortunate as we are,” Haq said. “Without [this free Thanksgiving celebration], they probably wouldn’t have a hot meal, a lot of them. It could be one meal in Port Barre or two meals in Kaplan, just making a difference.”
Haq, a native of Bangladesh said he began immersing himself into the American holiday when he came to Acadiana to study mechanical engineering, forty years ago.
“I didn’t know anything about Thanksgiving,” Haq said. “So many people are so kind and generous to me, I am so thankful.”
Now, Haq said he pays his blessings forward, by giving back to those who support him and by sharing with those who may be without.
Suzanne Ferrara joined Haq this year by volunteering her time and bringing her son to participate too.
“It really has been transformative for me,” Ferrera said. “I’ve always enjoyed my family and a lot of people, but coming here to see what Ema and Bailey’s has been doing for years in my backyard, I mean it really touched me.”
Today, Ferrera said she witnessed first-hand what it’s like to see hundreds of people so appreciative of such a small, token of appreciation.
Eleven-year-old Jackson Quinlan said he started volunteering at Bailey’s Seafood & Grill today, at eight in the morning.
Quinlan said his job was to help bag meals for to-go orders.
“[The chance to] just to give back to others that can’t afford things that maybe you can and to be grateful for the things you have and not take it for granted,” Quinlan said made him proud to lend a helping hand.
This year, Haq and his volunteers helped provide more than 15-hundred meals to people across Acadiana.
Some food deliveries went as far as Rain and Kaplan, LA and the plan is to keep the tradition going.