The Bea Gaddy Family Center is throwing a Thanksgiving Day dinner this year and 3,000 people are invited.

“Every year we get about 1,000 volunteers who help with our Thanks for Giving Campaign,” said Cynthia Brooks, executive director for the family center and daughter of the late Bea Gaddy. “These include the NFL…inmates from Hagerstown, and those people who volunteer off the street who just want to help.

We prepare 400 turkeys and other foods to give to roughly 3,000 in Patterson Park on Thanksgiving Day.”

The campaign started in 1981, when Bea Gaddy won the Maryland State Lottery. Her winnings were $273. She decided then to take the money and feed as many people as she could. 

“She fed 49 people that day,” said volunteer Eva Aikens. “From there she just kept feeding people every year, and it grew. She was determined to help as many people as possible.”

After her death in 2001, the center was moved to N. Chester Street in order to shelter homeless women and children. On average, Brooks said they feed about 600 people each month but Thanksgiving is always their busiest time.

“We try to feed as many as possible,” she said. “We know by doing this we are not ending hunger, and we don’t aim to. All we want to do is help, and if people keep coming we keep helping.”

“We like to think we keep families together,” said volunteer Nannette Holmes. “People can’t prepare meals or don’t have the food so they come here. They come here for the food and more importantly the family time.”

For those who wish to help, the family center is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday at 425 N. Chester Street, 410-563-2749.

Ansar Miller-Abdullah

Special to the AFRO