Community reaches out to Jim ‘N Nick’s this holiday season
by James Phillips
Dec 21, 2012 | 3395 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brennan and Emma Balentine open a package given by Missions Unlimited Thursday to children of Jim ‘N Nick’s employees. Each package had a child’s tent and sleeping bag. Photo by: James Phillips
Brennan and Emma Balentine open a package given by Missions Unlimited Thursday to children of Jim ‘N Nick’s employees. Each package had a child’s tent and sleeping bag. Photo by: James Phillips
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Employees of Jim ‘N Nick’s in Jasper received a welcomed surprise Thursday when several area residents provided food and Christmas presents for their families.

Jim ‘N Nick’s has been closed since Thanksgiving morning when a fire severely damaged the restaurant. Many of its employees have struggled because of diminished hours.

Trent McCluskey, the chief administrator at the Walker County Jail, helped rally community support for Jim ‘N Nick’s workers.

“This business has been there for Walker County. We wanted to show that we are there for them,” he said. “When the tornadoes struck our area, Jim ‘N Nick’s fed volunteers. They also took food to families in Cordova, Sipsey and other areas that had suffered damage. We felt this was the least we could do.”

The donations from people throughout Walker County allowed organizers to give each employee a ham and a turkey as well as purchase Christmas presents for their children.

“We want everyone in the community to know that we will never forget this outpouring of love that we saw from everyone today,” said Paul Liollio, local Jim ‘N Nick’s owner. “Thanks to you, our staff will be able to give their families a wonderful and blessed Christmas.”

Missions Unlimited, a Jasper-based disaster relief organization, also donated boxes of food as well as children’s sleeping bags and tents.

“We do our best to try to bless others in any way we can,” said Charles Harper, the group’s operations manager. “We are happy to be able to help.”

For the first time since the fire, pulled pork sandwiches were being sold at Jim ‘N Nick’s on Thursday. The company brought a food truck to the parking lot and sold sandwiches with all proceeds being divided amongst the staff.

“We would like to sincerely thank the Jasper and Walker County communities for their overwhelming support today at our Jim ‘N Nick’s benefit,” Liollio said. “Words cannot even begin to express how amazed we are by the number of people who waited in line in uncomfortable weather to buy sandwiches, make donations and show their support. Seeing this kind of loyalty and generosity from our family in the community literally brings tears to our eyes.”

Liollio said Thursday there is no definite timetable for when the restaurant will reopen. He said early January is their target.

“The fire was a tragedy for our staff, especially during the holidays; however, it has reminded us all of the true meaning of Christmas,” he said.