Veterans win big at Thanksgiving food giveaway

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Mid-South veterans packed Tiger Lane on Friday morning for a Thanksgiving food giveaway. It's the first year for the event that likely will become an annual tradition.

Kroger worked with Smithfield Foods, the Mid-South Food Bank, Alpha Omega Veterans Services, and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's office to organize the giveaway.

"It makes us appreciate our job, but more importantly it really gives us a good sense that we're making a difference," said Scot Hendricks, President of Kroger, Delta division.

Lines stretched through the fairgrounds and onto city streets as volunteers loaded the vehicles of 1,500 veterans with items for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Recipients got a ham along with a bag of dry food items from Kroger.

"It shows that there are wonderful people in this world, there are people that truly care for each other," said Dennis Pittman, Senior Director of Hunger Relief at Smithfield Foods.

Many of the veterans are homeless or disabled, organizers said. They were screened through existing lists from area service organization and the Memphis VA.

"Some gave all, all gave some," said Cordell Walker, Executive Director, Alpha Omega Veterans Services, "[We want to] make sure they're not homeless or scuffling the next couple of weeks during the holidays. We want to make sure they're all full - their families are all full."

For Vietnam veterans like Charlie Stanfield, the giveaway is welcome, as a kind act in the season of thanks.

"It's nice to be able to be recognized," said Stanfield, "I really appreciate the gesture that Mayor Strickland and staff are doing for the veterans.

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