Like so many Pine Islanders, Jackie Schebal is known for her generous spirit and her ongoing willingness to help her community in any way that she can. Recently, Schebal came up with an idea to treat families and individuals for an evening of dining for free. Those dining at Jackie's Family Restaurant in St. James City are now being offered the opportunity to purchase a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant for just $20. The gift certificates will then be presented to FISH, which will distribute the certificates to clients who are having a difficult time making ends meet.
"This is a neat way for some of our clients to get a bit of a break from the humdrum days of wondering what to fix to stretch their food budget, which doesn't include a night out," said FISH volunteer Mary Jo Roane. "We appreciate Jackie's help and think she deserves a pat on the back."
Schebal started the program to help those who don't get a chance for a night out due to financial concerns.
"A lot of people are going through hard times right now and we are doing what ever we can to help," Schebal said. "In the past we had run several fund-raisers for Kids With Cancer but because of permitting problems we decided to focus strictly on the needs of our Pine Island community."
According to Schebal, at this point she as presented FISH with a total of $350 worth of gift certificates.
"The best part of all of this is those receiving the gift certificates don't know who made the donation, they simply are given the vouchers by a FISH member and when they redeem them, our staff has no idea where they came from," said Schebal. "The good thing about this is that they can come in, have a meal and not feel as though they are being treated differently than any of our other customers."
The president of FISH, Richard Roane, said that each of the gift certificates will be offered to FISH clients as the need arises.
"At this point, when people call with special needs, those manning the phone will make recommendations for those people they feel are deserving of a break," Roane said. "Jackie's idea was to give people a break from the every day stresses that they are dealing with and that is how we determine who gets the gift certificates. I think this is a nice thing Jackie is doing and we are pleased with the reception it has been receiving from a bunch of very generous folks here on Pine Island."
Schebal and her family have called Pine Island home since 1992 and her generous nature has also been passed down to her son T.J. Brown.
"T.J. has done a lot of benefit concerts on the island for island charities and he is hoping to put together a benefit later this year also to help clients of FISH," Schebal said. "Summer is a very difficult time for many families on Pine Island and this is a chance for the whole community to get involved and provide these people with a sense of hope."
In addition to providing restaurant gift certificates to FISH, Jackie's Family Restaurant also serves as a drop-off location for the Island Food Pantry and the Hooker Back to School Supplies drive.
Jackie's is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, for breakfast from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
For more information, call Jackie's at 283-4225.