The season for giving

Published 8:11 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

More than 600 families will eat Thanksgiving dinner this year thanks to the generosity of one Suffolk man.

“I want to be a blessing to the community,” Leotis Williams said. “This is my way of giving back.”

Williams, who owns a landscaping business, greeted people waiting in line for turkeys, collard greens, sweet potatoes, canned food and peanuts at his warehouse on Pinner Street Saturday. Williams spent thousands of dollars of his own money purchasing the food.

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“With the economy, people really don’t even have the finances to buy a turkey,” he said.

Williams printed 620 vouchers for food and distributed them to 20 organizations in the area. The organizations were asked to identify those within their church or group in need of help and give them the vouchers.

“I figure they’re the best people to choose who (is) in need,” Williams said.

This year is the fifth food giveaway Williams has done. In previous years, he only gave turkeys. With the economy in a downslide, he decided to do a little more in 2008.

People in need walked, drove and rode in vans to the Pinner Street warehouse to turn in their vouchers. They then feasted on free coffee and pastries while volunteers carried the food to their vehicles. Health screenings also were being offered at the location.

At 11 a.m., he had given away about 250 turkeys, he said. At 1 p.m., he planned to open up the free food to the general public. Many people had heard about the giveaway throughout the day and come without vouchers, he said.

“People come in and just can’t believe it,” he said.