It all started with a winning lottery ticket and a caring lady named Bea Gaddy. In 1981, she took that ticket worth $250 and used it to feed 49 of her neighbors on Thanksgiving Day.
The tradition continues today.
From feeding dozens to now feeding thousands, the 36th annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving has become a holiday staple and monument to the woman who started the community custom.
Gaddy died in 2001. Her daughter, Cynthia Brooks, along with an army of volunteers have worked to continue the mission. The organization assists and provides food to needy families and people like Tommy, who’s attended the event the last four years. Tommy may not have the traditional dinner at home, but he can go to Patterson Park and enjoy a meal with his friend Christina and her friend's two kids.
“Makes me think about when I was coming up with my mother and my father and my brothers and everything, and it's like a big family once again,” said Tommy.
Guests were also given a bag of food when they left. And those physically unable to attend the event had their meals delivered to them. The group estimates volunteers delivered about 500 meals around the city.
From a long-standing tradition to the beginning of a new one.
Joy Baltimore, an organization supporting homeless, displaced, and runaway youth, held their first annual “Oh Give Thanks” Thanksgiving meal.
“Baltimore has a huge homeless issue when it comes to youth and nobody talks about it. And we wanted to put on this event and we wanted to be the same way as if you were at home having your Thanksgiving dinner,” said Lonnie Walker, founder and CEO of Joy Baltimore.
Not a handout but a meal shared amongst friends including Tiana Bell, who recently found housing with the help of Joy Baltimore.
“They're a really great support system in making sure I am going back to school as far as college and stuff like that. They've given me the tools I need to get scholarships and stuff so I can get back on track,” said Bell.
They also provided free haircuts, free coats, hygiene supplies and gift cards. As well as reassurance that they care about the people experiencing homelessness.
“We got a lot of work to do in this City, but I believe the support system is here to bring about the change people need to see,” said Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh.
To learn more about Joy Baltimore or contribute to the organization, click here.