Lattimore Foundation helps feed 875 people on Thanksgiving
The first volunteer arrived at 7 a.m. An hour later there were 25 people ready to help.
The rain continued to fall on Thanksgiving morning, but more assistance was on the way. Soon more than 30 volunteers were at the Bar-B-Grill in Ridgeland ready to serve meals to the community.
For the fourth consecutive year the Marcus Lattimore Foundation, in partnership with Randy Horton’s Bar-B-Grill, helped make Thanksgiving special in Jasper County by offering free meals.
Forty turkeys were cooked Thursday, totaling 860 pounds, and stuffing, gravy, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and banana pudding fed 875 people.
There were 27 meals delivered to the county’s senior citizens on the Meals on Wheels route, 82 meals went to the Creative Church in Hardeeville and 210 meals were delivered to those in need throughout Hardeeville. Many others walked in to the restaurant to grab a meal.
Dr. Tricia Etheridge’s office delivered meals to 10 families in need throughout the county.
“They were shocked that someone thought of them on Thanksgiving,” Etheridge said. “It’s such a blessing for us.”
Travelers off Interstate 95 from Kentucky, Florida and North Carolina found the restaurant, learned of the initiative and enjoyed the food.
Lattimore, a former University of South Carolina football star, was overwhelmed by the help of the volunteers.
“They are ready to work, ready to serve,” Lattimore said. “On a day where you’re supposed to be with family, you’re helping others. That’s what the holiday is all about. It makes you think we are doing something good.”
Said Horton: “We couldn’t do it without them. It’s unbelievable for them to give up their Thanksgiving and do it with good cheer.”
Ethan Trull, 22, was the first volunteer to arrive. His brother Cameron is a senior at Thomas Heyward Academy and his mother told him about the Lattimore Foundation’s annual day of giving in Ridgeland. A Gamecocks and Lattimore fan, Trull wanted to be part of the fellowship.
“I wanted to help out the community and everybody here is nice and working,” Trull said.
Lena Morris Thomas has been involved with the initiative for three years. She helps get the football players involved, encouraging them to help others. Eight Thomas Heyward football players, coach Nic Shuford and a John Paul II cheerleader volunteered.
“It’s about bringing the community together and getting the youth involved and getting them to learn about giving back,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she’s impressed with the Lattimore Foundation’s desire to help.
“I’ve always thought a lot of Marcus Lattimore as a person,” said Thomas, a Gamecocks fan. “He’s just always been a big inspiration. And people want to help him and they jumped on board.”
The Marcus Lattimore Foundation began in 2013. It emphasizes Christian values, developing life skills, education, and health and wellness. It also helps give medical assistance to high school athletes with severe sports injuries who might have inadequate health coverage.
Lattimore, 26, first helped feed about 400 families in Jasper County for Thanksgiving in 2014.
The next year 700 meals were served and last year more than 900 people were fed Thanksgiving meals.
As Lattimore looked around the Bar-B-Q Grill this Thanksgiving, he marveled at all the people who were willing to help despite the poor weather.
“It just makes it all worth it when I see that,” said Lattimore, who was in town with his wife Miranda, mother Yolanda Smith, his aunt, and Marcus Lattimore Foundation President Desiree Watson.
Not only does Lattimore, a Duncan native who coaches Heathwood Hall’s varsity football team in Columbia, plan to return again next Thanksgiving, but he expects to be in the area more often. He’s expected to give the commencement speech at Thomas Heyward Academy’s graduation next spring and he said his foundation hopes to come for Christmas in 2018 to help buy gifts for kids in need.
He said he loves the area and enjoys being with the people in Jasper County.
“It feels like home,” Lattimore said.