LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW)– Business owners in Lumberton joined together to donate more than 1,000 Thanksgiving meals Thursday.
Justin Herring, the owner of Top That Dessert Bar, said he wanted to put the event together after seeing families he knew lose the person who normally organized their Thanksgiving dinner.
“Every day it’s like, ‘Rest in peace grandma, rest in peace my brother, I lost this person to COVID,'” Herring said. “A lot of people lost that person that put together Thanksgiving for their families. It was just an idea to get the community together for something positive.”
People lined up outside JC Penney at the Biggs Park Mall for a plate of hot food. The location had been closed for over a year, but Herring gave the mall a reason to open its doors back up.
“He wanted to give back to the community by hosting this free meal, so of course my family and I were all about it,” Chelsea Biggs Memory, the owner and manager of Biggs Park Mall said. “We love giving back to the community and if he wants to implement it, we want to help him in any way we can.”
Herring said he asked many of his business-owner friends to donate a dish. Some of the donors included Body Nirvana, Melissa’s Catering Service, Fairmont Pizza and 867 Flavas.
“Honestly, the support has been overwhelming and I am forever grateful,” he said.
For some recipients, the meal made all the difference. William Parker said he has been homeless since he lost his house in a fire three months ago, and didn’t have a Thanksgiving meal lined up prior to the event.
“I’ll probably be eating at the soup kitchen,” Parker said. “I love that people are helping each other here in Lumberton.”
Herring said it is important for business owners to lend a helping hand when they can.
“People think of business owners as higher class,” Herring said. “I think it is important to be here with them face-to-face to let them know I am just like you.”
Herring was thrilled with the turnout. He said he looks forward to partnering with the mall for more events like it in the future.