By Michael Fleming 
BELLEVILLE – The Shoeless Joe’s  in Belleville will be open on Christmas Day, but it won’t be business as usual.
Instead, the restaurant is reaching out to those in need of a place to go.
“That means everyone from veterans and seniors, to divorced and separated families, to the homeless,” says April Meeks, media manager for Shoeless Joe’s Belleville. The initiative is about giving back to the community, she said.
The restaurant will be serving a more traditional Christmas dinner as opposed to its usual menu items, Meeks said. The dinner will include turkey, ham, potatoes and various other food items.
Any Shoeless Joe’s employees present on Dec. 25 will be there voluntarily, she said. The restaurant will not be open for regular business because of the Christmas special event.
Meeks has already been approached by several members of the community looking to contribute to the Christmas dinner, she said. The original intent was for the event to be run exclusively by Shoeless Joe’s employees and their families, but the restaurant is happy to accept the donations of food items that have been coming in, she added: “We have a very generous community, which is nice to see.”
The initiative is something that Shoeless Joe’s is hoping to make an annual event, Meeks said. It’s similar to what staff members have experienced at other restaurants, she said.
Shoeless Joe’s will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 25.