CINCINNATI -- Over a decade ago, Sam Landis depended on the goodwill of strangers for his Thanksgiving meal. Homeless, scared and unsure how to escape his circumstances, he got a hot meal and a warm winter coat at the Duke Energy Center’s annual Fall Feast, which helps connect underprivileged Cincinnatians with the resources they need for a safe, happy Thanksgiving.
In 2016, he returned to the feast — and put his coat back on the rack.
“Now, I’m in a position where I can give back,” he said. “I can show people that change is possible. I can show them how to heal.”
Landis, who runs the homelessness-oriented nonprofit Maslow’s Army, was one of hundreds of volunteers who helped prepare 7,000 meals for Fall Feast attendees Thursday evening. Justin Markle said Fall Feast started as simply serving a Thanksgiving meal, but the event -- now in its 12th year -- has evolved into much more.
In addition to turkey, mashed potatoes and pie, people who benefit from the Fall Feast can get warm clothes, haircuts, books to read and resources for overcoming homelessness and drug addiction.
“It’s about getting a warm coat, it’s about getting the resources and the services that can be available on a sustainable basis, all year round,” Markle said.
Markle said Fall Feast also provides the resources necessary to obtain healthcare.
“It's amazing that so many people come through, but it's also terrible that we have so many people in need,” team leader Kimberly Kanakes said. “So the community should care because we have so many people in the community who need a thanksgiving dinner-where the only time they get a haircut is once a year."