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Local businesses pitch in for J.O.Y. Baltimore's "Oh Give Thanks" Thanksgiving Day party

Donations are still needed
Posted: 12:18 PM, Nov 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-21 23:17:48Z

The kitchen at 16 on the Park in East Baltimore is in full Thanksgiving mode.

The chefs are preparing to serve customers on Thanksgiving Day and they're also preparing 20, 20-pound turkeys for another special Thanksgiving Day celebration.

"80 percent of our associates are from this community, so not only do we want to give back to the residents of this community but also to our own employees," said Rickey Earles, the general manager of the Residence Inn Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. 16 on the Park is the hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant.

The 20 turkeys, donated by Cafe Fili, are part of the "Oh Give Thanks" Thanksgiving Day party being hosted by J.O.Y. Baltimore.

J.O.Y. is a drop-in center for homeless people ages 13 to 24. They provide outreach services like housing and job placement, food, clothing, whatever the need. 

Lonnie Walker, the founder of J.O.Y., says the need is great.

"When you're under 18 there's nowhere for you to go cause you can't go into a shelter and say I need a place to stay. So there is a huge homeless youth issue in Baltimore City," he said.

"They're staying in places they call 'Abandon-miniums' (vacant homes) or couch-surfing at friends' houses."

Walker says the reasons for youth homeless vary, from kids getting kicked out because of their sexuality, to aging out of foster care.

He says they've seen many success stories and setbacks too.

"We don't judge. What's the problem, how can we help, let's get it done. And even if they fall off and come back, we're gonna pick up where we started," he said.

This is the second year for the "Oh Give Thanks" party. There will be food, entertainment, free haircuts, free clothing and sneakers and much more.

"We want people to come out and have a good time and party like if you were at your own home," Walker said."We are family and we're going to party like a family."

And businesses like 16 on the Park are happy to play a role in making this a Thanksgiving to remember.

"What better way to say thank you to the community than to give back to them," Earles said.

J.O.Y. is still looking for donations for the party, especially gift cards to places like Target or Walmart to give to the kids. If you'd like to make a donation, visit their website by clicking here . You can also follow them on Instagram @JoyBaltimore or Facebook @JoyBaltimore2018 for a list of donation items needed.