They left their empty homes and walked into Edwards Brothers Hall in Middletown to not only the comfort of a hot Thanksgiving meal, but also for companionship.

They left their empty homes and walked into Edwards Brothers Hall in Middletown to not only the comfort of a hot Thanksgiving meal, but also for companionship.

Paul Harris of Middletown said most of his family members are in Wilmington and he doesn’t have the resources to travel to see them this holiday.

“I probably would’ve just stayed at home. My family is far away. It’s hard to get to them, to see them,” Harris said. “So for me, something like this is pretty cool. If this wasn’t around, I’d probably be watching TV (alone) and maybe eat some baked beans.”

Louella Thompson’s Feed the Hungry program and Edwards Brothers teamed up to provide the Thanksgiving meal. Serve City’s CHOSEN also hosted a dinner Thursday at 622 East Ave. in Hamilton.

Former professional basketball star and Middletown native William Edwards owns the hall and helped organize the eighth annual dinner. He told the Journal-News it was his mom who influenced him to remember the less fortunate.

“I owe it to this community to give back,” Edwards said.

He graduated from Middletown High School in 1989 and now is involved in helping the boys basketball team. Five of the players took time away from their families and volunteered at the dinner.

“We try to teach them and preach to them you guys are athletes in this community and a lot of people support you in this community. So as an athlete, you owe it to give back,” Edwards said.

His mom, Jennifer Edwards, helped prepare the Thanksgiving meals. She said her team helped cook 18 turkeys, starting on Tuesday.

She helped organize the holiday meals because she didn’t want residents like Harris to be home alone.

“It bothered me (that) there were those who didn’t have anyone to share Thanksgiving with,” she said.

Jennifer Edwards is a breast cancer survivor and said she she has a lot to be thankful for.

“I don’t care what you’ve lost or what you don’t have, everybody always has something they can be thankful for,” she said.

Gregory Hart from the Feed the Hungry program played jazz and gospel music at the meal. Hart’s organization helped spread the message throughout the city about the Thanksgiving meal.

“Being lonely is not a good thing, it’s not healthy,” Hart said. “We all a need somebody. That’s why we invite everybody, anybody to come.”

He thanked the dozens of volunteers who gave up time away from their families to serve those less fortunate.

“What makes me feel even better is those people that sacrifice their families to come and be a part of this, that’s what touches your heart,” Hart said.

Volunteers from Edwards Brothers Hall also delivered turkey dinners to nursing homes and to people who were unable to leave their homes.

On Wednesday, Hope House Mission, 34 S. Main St. in Middletown, also served about 75 Thanksgiving dinners for members of the homeless community.

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©2013 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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