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Bea Gaddy Family Center celebrates 40th year serving Thanksgiving dinner

Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-25 17:24:53-05

BALTIMORE — Thanksgiving is known as a day to spend time with loved ones and enjoying food, but some people chose to spend their day feeding the homeless.

In East Baltimore, the Bea Gaddy Family Center said it’s a tradition that’s been going strong now for 40 years.

2021 is the second year people haven’t been able to go in and sit down and eat their Thanksgiving dinner like normal because of COVID.

However, Cynthia Brooks who’s the center’s director said they weren’t going to let that stop them from serving their community.

“It’s a tradition honoring a legacy and supporting our community. We serve tens of thousands of meals we started this past Saturday and today we’re finishing up,” Brooks said.

Brooks is the daughter of Bea Gaddy who initially started the Thanksgiving dinner legacy, and she said keeping that tradition alive was part of her mother’s last wish.

“Her instructions on her last days were that we were going to continue this meal, we’re not going to cancel it in 2001. She made sure that she poured into us the responsibility of taking care of our neighbors. It’s 2021 and we’re still honoring her words,” Brooks said.

This year dinner was served to-go inside the Patterson Park Community center which was much different from previous years due to COVID.

“We normally would have people sitting down eating there would be entertainment and fellowship. We can’t do that this year things are different but we’re trying to keep some normalcy,” Brooks said.

And due to the inflation in food prices people weren’t able to donate as much food, and the organization wasn’t able to purchase as much as they normally would also because of the pandemic.

“We haven’t even been able to mass cook. It takes 1000 volunteers to usually put this meal together but because it’s not safe I do that we couldn’t,” Brooks said.

But that didn’t stop some family’s like Gwen Tiedeman from still volunteering a helping hand.

“I wanted to show Dylan our son what it means to give back so here we are. It comes from the heart it’s doing something for someone else and I think that’s important to do today every day show your kid,” Tiedeman said.

On one side of the gym people were served their meals to go, on the other side volunteers picked up food to drop off to those in need. All in efforts of showing thanks while giving back.

“We had backpacks that’s going out to seniors, we’re sending out hot food and groceries to the seniors that are shut in. This is humbling the amount of people that pour into us to help people they will never meet its humbling it feels good,” Brooks said.

Organizers said they’ve been working for three weeks to prepare for this day. Although Thanksgiving it’s the grand finale they want the community to know if they need food, they can always reach out to the Bea Gaddy family center and make arrangements to pick up food.