LeOtis Williams shows off one of the 2,000 turkeys he will give away this year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
LeOtis Williams shows off one of the 2,000 turkeys he will give away this year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

12,000 turkeys

Published 7:46pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Williams’ generosity makes Thanksgiving special

During the course of the last 11 years, LeOtis Williams has bought about 12,000 turkeys.

This year alone, he purchased about 2,000 of them, along with 150 bushels of collards, 100 bushels of cabbage and 150 bushels of sweet potatoes.

It might be safe to assume Williams has given them away in the past, and will give them away again this year, just so he didn’t have to cook all that food. But really, he donates them to the less fortunate in the community to help them.

“I feel as if no man, woman or child should have to go to bed hungry,” Williams said. “For a lot of folks, this is the only way of having a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Williams drew inspiration from his mother, Marvis Milteer, who instilled in her six children the value of helping others.

“When I grew up, my mom used to feed people in the neighborhood,” Williams said. “I decided I wanted to make a difference.”

The first year of the giveaway, he bought 175 turkeys. The number has increased every year since then.

Williams buys the food with money he earns through his businesses — a lawn service, rental company, investment company and a self-service ice dispenser. He sends vouchers to about 130 churches, civic leagues and other organizations, who give them to folks they know are struggling.

The scene on the last Saturday before Thanksgiving is always chaotic on Old East Pinner Street, where Williams’ offices are located. Folks line up for the food and receive coffee and doughnuts, and later hamburgers and hotdogs, as they wait. This year, more than 100 volunteers will sort, hand out and help carry the food, and the Bon Secours Care-A-Van will be on site to provide free medical care. Folks will also receive education on the Affordable Care Act.

In the middle of it all, Williams will be nowhere to be found, probably hiding in the office.

“It’s not about me,” he said.

His next project, unsurprisingly, also involves food and helping the community.

“I’m trying to hopefully get this food bank off the ground,” he said. “That’s my goal for next year.”

Williams also serves year-round on the Salvation Army board and as a commissioner on the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority board.

“It’s all about making a difference,” he said. “It’s just such a good feeling that I have to see so many people able to benefit from this program.

“Times are hard, and I’m just grateful God has blessed me to be able to provide a service to my fellow man.”

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