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Chef, volunteers feed 200 homeless veterans for Thanksgiving

Posted: 3:57 PM, Nov 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-28 17:29:46-05
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BALTIMORE (WMAR) — One chef was cooking all week, getting ready for a Thanksgiving feast. With over 30 volunteers, he helped to serve 200 veterans in South Baltimore.

“It’s overwhelming and it fills my heart to see the veterans are actually enjoying the meal,” said chef John Jackson.

A veteran himself, he wanted to give back during the giving season.

“It just makes you feel good. You go out and help someone you know you can help, spend time with people who don't have family members maybe, socializing with them. It makes you feel good. I like to see people smile and food is one way that we can get people to smile,” said Jackson.

"A few of us don't have another place to go but here. It's a good feeling,” said veteran Frank Holland. “People being generous and kind… it carries a lot of weight.”

MORE: Randallstown chef sets out to feed 200 veterans on Thanksgiving

Born and raised in Charm City, Holland served 8 years in the Army.

“Life after service was very hard. During the period time I got out, these kind of activities and organizations weren't developed at that time. So doing drugs and stuff, I was pretty destitute for a while,” said Holland.

He’s doing a lot better with the help of the VA and The Baltimore Station, which serves around 300 homeless veterans every year, as a residential and outpatient program with treatment services. They usually have a lot of volunteers helping, but around the holidays can be hard to find help.

“To see people take time out of their holiday to come and spend time with them, it’s just the value is something we could never put a number to,” said Todd Troester, Community Outreach and Food Services Manager at the Baltimore Station.

And it all started with Chef JJ and his idea to feed 100 vets. But with an outpouring of support, they were able to feed 200 at both shelter locations in Baltimore.

He was also presented with resolutions from the mayor and the city council president, for his hard work and dedication.

“Thank you guys very much for helping me with this. Not me, it's everyone in here,” said Jackson.