A businessman is making sure people in need receive a free Thanksgiving meal this year in Orlando, Florida.
Eric Holm said he grew up poor and remembers busing tables at the restaurant where his single mom worked as a waitress to support their family of six. At the time, they always ate Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army, according to CBS 47.
In 1992, Holm founded “Helpings from the Heart” which serves the community free meals on Thanksgiving Day as a way to give back to the Salvation Army for their generosity toward his loved ones.
Now in our 27th year, Helpings from the Heart seems to get bigger and better each year. I am personally humbled to be able to serve others throughout Central Florida on Thanksgiving Day. The event is open to anyone who wants a great meal and to celebrate the holiday in fellowship with others.
This year, the event took place at the Salvation Army gymnasium located at 440 W. Colonial Dr. where nearly 1,000 volunteers prepared about 20,000 meals for anyone in need.
“Anybody who’s hungry or lonely today, come sit at our table,” Salvation Army Capt. Ken Chapman told Fox 35 Orlando.
“We want to make them understand that somebody in this community cares,” he said.
Jason Gronlund, a professional chef who has worked with the event for the past 25 years, said the volunteers make the difference and see to all the details, including “Everything from putting the flowers on the tables to making sure the food is perfect.”
The big event is a collaborative effort between Holm, who is the owner and president of Metro Corral Partners, and several other businesses and community groups.
“The Helpings from the Heart event is something we look forward to all year,” said Gronlund.
“A lot of preparation goes into it, but it is a team effort that brings a lot of joy to many people. We look forward to being able to serve a great meal that day to so many deserving people in the Orlando community.”
Helpings from the Heart will serve neighbors more than 3,000 pounds of turkey and ham, along with stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, and desserts.
“The true spirit of Thanksgiving will be on display as volunteers and area residents come together to share a meal and togetherness throughout the day,” Chapman concluded.