Nfld. & Labrador

Clarenville Chinese restaurant serving free Christmas Eve turkey

A Chinese restaurant in Clarenville is swapping out the sweet and sour chicken for something more Canadian on Christmas Eve, and the food will be free.
This is what you normally get at Uncle Li's, but look for a different menu on Christmas Eve. (Facebook)

A Chinese restaurant in Clarenville is swapping out the sweet and sour chicken for something more Canadian on Christmas Eve, and the food will be free.

Uncle Li's will serve turkey dinner to people who can't afford to pay, or who don't have family to share a meal with — it will even do takeout for customers too shy for a sit-down meal.

Restaurant manager Tina Li told the St. John's Morning Show Monday she came up with the idea in early December, after her father asked her to donate food to a local personal care home.

"It's the customers who inspire me too," she said. "Because sometimes a customer will come in and have a meal and they see the older people in the dining room, and they just randomly buy them a meal."

Li said about 40 people had called as of Monday to say they will be coming, but she has no idea how many others will walk in.

Dinner will be served from 4 to 6 p.m. but that could be extended, Li said, depending on demand.

"If the turkeys run out then we'll be making Chinese food, yes."

It will also be a chance for the Li family, which doesn't have many relatives in Canada, to spend time with others during the holidays.

"I just feel that Christmas is about having dinner with family and friends so since our family is in China ... we're able to help other people, like people who can't afford it," Li said.

"Not just people who can't afford it, but people who are lonely at home — for example single moms or a parent whose kids are gone away to work or school and weren't able to make it home."

Li said the restaurant has had donations of turkeys, drinks and money and offers from the community to volunteer.

"I must say there are a lot of people who are trying to help."

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