Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater family honors mother's memory with 'Operation Stone Soup'

CLEARWATER

Debora Ennen woke early Monday, pulled on her favorite tiger-striped blouse and matching heels, flat-ironed her long blond hair and made two wishes: Let me get a job and food today.

Two weeks ago, after a round of layoffs, the 51-year-old lost her sales associate position at Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions.

She'd just received her last paycheck for $44 — enough to fuel her 1995 Dodge Ram and drive to Steak 'n Shake, Red Lobster and the Village Inn to apply for serving gigs.

Then she would visit the Noyes family.

A Salvation Army employee had told her about the family that donates Thanksgiving dinner every year to those who can't afford it. She dreamed of turkey slathered in gravy, and gooey sweet potatoes.

She'd been living recently on groceries from food banks.

Palms sweating, the Largo woman walked into Matthew Noyes' law firm in Clearwater, stepped into the elevator and pressed "2."

• • •

Inside the law firm lobby, Natasha Talbott spotted the brown bags stuffed with food and smiled.

She imagined her family of eight feasting on collard greens and pumpkin pie as the Cowboys battled the Redskins on TV.

But this Thanksgiving, Natasha, 35, will serve other people at IHOP in Clearwater Beach for $4.75 an hour. She and her husband, John, work almost every holiday and save every penny they can to pay rent on their two-bedroom apartment in Clearwater and feed their five kids and new grandchild.

And just when she thought this year's Thanksgiving dinner would come from a couple of tin cans, she heard about the Noyes family.

• • •

Matthew Noyes, a personal-injury lawyer in Clearwater, calls his family's project "Operation Stone Soup." The name comes from an old folktale: A stranger once fed a starving village by persuading everyone to share.

His mother often told the story.

Mary Noyes, a kindhearted and deeply religious former music teacher at St. Cecelia Catholic School, died of cancer in 2003. Her 11 children started the Thanksgiving tradition of feeding the hungry to honor their mother, their role model, who prayed each time she heard an ambulance siren.

Because Mary would have been 84 this November, they donated 84 Thanksgiving dinners to families across Pinellas County on Monday. Each year, the number of donated meals goes up by one to match the age their mother would have been that year.

Matthew's law firm is always home base for the giveaway.

Over the weekend, his extended family — a local brood of about 50 — pitched in to shop for the food.

His sister loaded 84 Jennie-O turkeys from Walmart into her brother-in-law's pickup truck.

His twin nieces helped double-bag the cheese potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, corn and gravy.

His daughter handed the 10-pound sacks to Debora Ennen and Natasha Talbott, who left the building beaming, moments apart.

In the elevator, on the way down, Debora cheered.

"We're gonna eat!"

Danielle Paquette can be reached at dpaquette@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4224.

Clearwater family honors mother's memory with 'Operation Stone Soup' 11/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 7:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bill Clinton coming to Miami Beach on Saturday for mayors' convention

    Blogs

    From our friends at the Miami Herald:

    Former President Bill Clinton gives the opening address to kick off a meeting of International Aid Groups at the InterAction Forum 2017 at the Washington Convention Center on June 20.
  2. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

    National

    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  3. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  4. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy

    Business

    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.