FORT BLISS, Texas – On Thanksgiving, a day many spend with family, a group of soldiers and local volunteers offered up their time to provide homeless El Pasoans with a proper turkey dinner.
More than 4,000 less fortunate families and individuals filled Civic Center Plaza and sat down for a free holiday feast courtesy of the annual Feed the Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner project. More than 250 turkeys were prepared and served to guests by people from all over the community – from school principals and Fort Bliss soldiers to bearded bikers of resident motorcycle clubs.
“It’s always good to give back to the community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Heather A. West, a Sergeant Audie Murphy Club member and mobilized Reservist with 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Army Division West. “It’s easy to live in your own little bubble and close your eyes to the rest of the world, but coming out here reminds you to be thankful for what you do have.”
That spirit of giving back to those less fortunate was actually one of main the reasons Feed the Homeless was started by the former mayor’s wife, Tram Cook. Even as a young girl, Cook could always remember how her mother would provide free meals from her restaurant to the homeless. She would actually search up and down the streets to give away leftover food at the end of the day.
Cook now carries on her late-mother’s legacy by attempting to feed an entire city’s worth of homeless.
“It brings me very close to her,” said Cook, describing the relationship of the project and her mother’s charity work. “I feel very happy. She would be proud. “
While many of the volunteers might not have realized the personal history behind the project, their spirit of giving was exactly the same as the spirit that gave birth to the project, she added.
Young children and elderly grandparents alike could be seen side-by-side with a smile, serving helpings of pumpkin pie, creamy mashed potatoes and tender, juicy turkey to the less fortunate.
“It’s a blessing to know you have caring people in your community that are willing to sacrifice their time, talent and tangibles on Thanksgiving Day to help others who are in need,” said Carl L. Robinson, the northeast El Paso city representative and a U.S. Army veteran. “We are one community. It makes me feel good.”