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Michigan restaurant owner offers free meals to 'lonely' diners on Thanksgiving

As families gather this Thanksgiving, many others will be alone. Thanks to some initiatives, those folks have holiday dining options. 

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    In this 2014 photo, Theresa Starta and her family host guests from other countries at their home in Dubai, serving a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and sharing the history of each dish.
    Christina Lundgren/Theresa Starta via AP
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While Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to spend with family or friends and munch on large amounts of food, some people for one reason or another spend the holiday alone.  

Fortunately, there are initiatives across the country that seek to brighten the holiday for those on their own.

George’s Senate Coney Island restaurant in Michigan, for one, will offer free warm meals to solo diners this Thanksgiving.

"George's Thanksgiving Day Dinner. If anyone is home alone, come eat with us for free! All day," so reads a sign spotted on the restaurant's window that was posted on the social media website Reddit.

For the last 10 years , the owner of the restaurant, George Dimopoulos, has offered a free all-you-can-eat buffet to people dining alone on Thanksgiving day, according to ABC News. 

Dimopoulos’s idea of feeding solo diners for free was inspired by his own life experiences. "The reason I do this is because I was alone one time," he told ABC. "I remember the good times and bad times."

“Customers are more than welcome to enjoy a traditional hot turkey plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, dine on Coney Island hot dogs and leave room for dessert,” Dimopoulos told ABC.

For Dimopoulos, other people’s happiness on such a day precedes making money. “Maybe I don’t make money, but I feel happy to do that. I do this every year and I will keep doing this as long as I live,” he says.

A number of Americans find themselves celebrating the holiday alone, due to demanding jobs, family tensions, challenging schoolwork, or the high cost of travel for a long weekend. But there are programs that ensure people don’t have a lonely Turkey Day.  

For instance, early this month the S.C. Johnson company launched a program, dubbed "Happy Thanksgathering," to help families be together for the holidays. People can enter a sweepstakes to win a $1,000 “Help Me Get Home” Visa rewards card to put toward a trip home or to enter a second sweepstakes for the chance to win a $250 “Help Me Host” gift card to help pay for a holiday feast with loved ones.

One other program that's bringing people together around the dining table is Meal Sharing – a website that connects travelers and locals over home cooked meals. This Thanksgiving, the website has an initiative called ThanksSharing where hosts provide people in their communities with company and warm meals during the holiday.

“We want to create a world where you can point to anywhere on the map and be welcome to a home cooked meal. We want to make it possible for people, who otherwise would probably never meet, to get together and have a good time over food,” the founders say on their website.

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