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F.I.S.H. and TCH partner up to host Thanksgiving meal, butterfly release

The island community is invited to gather with family and friends to enjoy a free holiday meal.

Partnering with The Community House, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva will host a Thanksgiving Meal and Butterfly Release on Nov. 17 beginning at 3 p.m. at TCH on Sanibel. It is free and open to islanders.

“Everyone can come and sit and enjoy all of the holiday fixings,” F.I.S.H. Executive Director Maria Espinoza said, noting that there is still much work to be done as the Hurricane Ian rebuilding continues. “Hopefully, we can bring people together like we did last year and celebrate the progress that’s been made.”

“It is important that as a community we continue to gather and look towards our future with gratitude for our friends and neighbors,” TCH Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall added. “We are extremely happy to be partnering with F.I.S.H. on this community celebration.”

Jerry’s Foods on Sanibel will provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including sliced turkey with gravy, sweet mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. F.I.S.H. will offer pumpkin pie as the dessert.

“Since it’s kid-friendly, we’re also going to have a mini-pizza section with additional sides,” Espinoza said.

F.I.S.H. partner Midwest Food Bank will provide beverages, like soda, water and such.

Following the meal, a butterfly release will take place starting at 4 p.m.

Espinoza explained that since the hurricane, F.I.S.H. has incorporated an element of healing, rebirth and moving forward in its events. The release aims to symbolize transformation, hope and connection.

“We thought that a butterfly release would be very symbolic,” she said.

“(It) is a physical sign of our belief in the continued beauty of our islands,” Riska-Hall added.

Espinoza reported that they worked with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to identify which species of butterfly would be appropriate for the release and chose the Zebra longwing. According to SCCF staff, the species of butterfly has not yet been seen on Sanibel since the storm.

“We are going to release 300 butterflies,” she said.

Espinoza noted that the F.I.S.H. team is excited to give the species a fresh start on the islands.

In addition to helping with the selection, the SCCF provided F.I.S.H. with guidance on how to give the released butterflies their best chance at survival, such as the appropriate plantings to help them thrive. As a result, F.I.S.H. will also distribute biodegradable seed packs — one per family — containing milk weed and other plant species seeds at the event for attendees to take home and plant in their own yard.

“The seed packs are plants that are good for this specific type of butterfly,” she said.

The islands are encouraged to come out and take part in the community gathering. While people are welcome to take a meal or two to-go, F.I.S.H. simply asks that people do not take several of them.

“I remember last year’s event at The Community House. It was such a good experience to come together,” Espinoza said, noting that it was the first chance to really gather following the hurricane.

“It’s about having a nice meal, being thankful and experiencing something as beautiful as a butterfly release as a community,” she added.

For more information, call 239-472-4775 or visit F.I.S.H. on Facebook, X/Twitter or Instagram.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.

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