Hundreds Turn Out to Support War Vets and Eat Lebanese Cuisine - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds Turn Out to Support War Vets and Eat Lebanese Cuisine

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A team of cooks and volunteers prepared a meal for an army. For 83 years, the Itoo Society has held its annual supper fundraiser.

"Everybody loves German Food, Italian Food, you can make that at home, some of it, but Lebanese food is hard to make," said Carl Williams, Itoo Society spokesman. "If your not Lebanese someone has to teach you to do it."

And for the hundreds of people who flock to the Itoo Hall each year, it is the best all you can eat joint in town.

William Dennis said he loves Lebanese food, "Cabbage Rolls and Kibbee are my two favorites."

"I've been eating this food any chance I get the opportunity to, so it's almost like family," said James Polk.

The Itoo Society was founded in 1914 as a support system for Lebanese immigrants in Peoria.

"Itoo is a small mountain village in northern Lebanon where our descendants came from," said Williams.

And before the hosts broke out the knives and forks Sunday, a service to honor local Lebanese- American war veterans was held.

The spokesman said, "Last year we honored our World War Two and our World War One vets, this year we decided to honor our Korean War vets."

"It's very appropriate for us to pay respects to these men for what they did," said Peoria mayor, Jim Ardis.

Mike Unes is one of eight Korean war vets honored, but Korea was not the only place he served.

"World War Two I was very young. Towards the end of the war, I joined the merchant marines as a seaman, I was 17-years-old," Unes said.

It was five years later that he was drafted into the Army and sent to Korea. Unes said it is nice to have his service recognized.

"The Korean War- they try to keep it as a low-key conflict type of thing, but believe me it wasn't low- key for the guys that were doing it."

Believe it or not, there were two Mike Unes' at the Itoo Hall Sunday. The war veteran said he is "not related to the new state-representative."

Representative-elect Mike Unes was not working on future Illinois policy, he was busing tables for the hundreds of hungry patrons.

"For as long as I can remember, it's really neat for our extended family to come together and help out, and with everyone coming here, it helps the community," said Republican 91st District representative-elect, Mike Unes.

In fact much of the Itoo Supper proceeds go to help causes like St. Jude and the Heart of Illinois Down Syndrome Association.

If you happened to miss out this year, fear not. The 84th annual supper will be here before you know it.
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