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Bea Gaddy Lives On: Thousands Of Needy Families Receive A Hot Thanksgiving Meal

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of people celebrate Thanksgiving with a meal — all thanks to an annual holiday tradition.

Monique Griego has more on the 32th annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinner.

It was a brisk but sunny Thanksgiving morning at Patterson Park as the first wave of people arrived at the 32th annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinner.

“A lot of people need help, really need help cause some children don’t even know what a Thanksgiving meal is,” said Mary Barnes, who came to the dinner.

The late Bea Gaddy, a well-known homeless advocate, started off by feeding her neighbors. Over the years, her mission expanded to feeding needy families throughout the city. Since her death in 2001, her family has made sure her message and the tradition continue.

“It keeps her here with me. Her spirit, her legacy, it lives,” said Cynthia Brooks, Bea Gaddy’s daughter.

While it’s Bea Gaddy’s family that organizes the event, it’s the volunteers that keep things moving.

“I remember being a little girl watching it on the news, seeing the lines going around the block and I always said I wanted to do it,” said Ife Fatiu, volunteer.

Volunteers will serve close to 3,000 hot turkey dinners.

For some of these families, without Bea Gaddy there wouldn’t be a holiday meal at all.

“It’s great. It’s great. It’s Thanksgiving dinner. Can’t beat that,” said William Ritchie, who came to the dinner.

But what makes Bea Gaddy’s dinner stand out isn’t just the food, it’s the celebratory atmosphere.

“I like the music. I like the surroundings,” said Tammy Artis, who came to the dinner.

“All kind of activities going on. We enjoy each other. It’s like family,” said Latonya McKellery, volunteer.

In addition to these dinners, the foundation also sends out around 50,000 meals to people in their homes, making sure everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.

All of the turkeys used for Thursday’s dinner were donated.

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