With Thanksgiving just around the corner, some area businesses and organizations are stepping up to make sure meals are available to those in the community who otherwise might have to go without.

This is the fifth year James Brown, owner of Bubba’s Fat Burger in Gilmer, has provided free meals to the community.

Brown’s wife, Willie Brown, said the meals are possible because of a communitywide effort.

“It’s not just Bubba’s that is doing it,” she said. “It’s Bubba’s and sponsors.”

Brown said the idea for the free meals came about because he just wanted to give back to the community.

“I went around to all the businesses in Gilmer and I asked them for donations to help me do these meals and they did,” he said. “And each year, more people started giving and it just got bigger and bigger.”

Brown said 750 people benefited from the meals last year.

“So, we’re shooting for 2,000 or more this year,” he said. “It’s just from my heart. The Lord blessed me and I want to give back.”

During the first year, Brown said the meals were served at the restaurant.

“Now I’m having it at the Yamboree grounds because the first year I did it at the restaurant and it was so big … told me I could have it there,” he said.

Willie Brown said, “He really cares about those who might not be able to be with family on Thanksgiving or might not even have a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Community Thanksgiving mealsSuitcase for Life, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19, Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2000 W. Gentry Parkway, Tyler

Celebrate Recovery, meal to be served at6 p.m. Nov. 21, Green Acres Baptist Church, 110 Student Center 1505 Troup Hwy., Tyler. Meal will be served then worship will begin at 7 p.m. with the Celebrate Recovery band and special message from Pastor John Roach.

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, noon Nov. 22, West Erwin Benevolence Center, 215 S. Bonner Ave., Tyler

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, noon Nov. 23, Men’s Development Center, 3117 W. Marshall Ave., Longview and Women and Family Development Center, 3004 W. Marshall Ave.

Bubba’s Fat Burger, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 23, Exhibit Building on the Yamboree grounds, Gilmer

Legacy Tables, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23, 900 W. Bow St., Suite 2, Tyler

Circle M Crawfish, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 24, 14449 Highway 155 S., Big Sandy

If your business, church or organization is hosting a free Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, let us know at info@news-journal.com

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Features Editor

I began my role as features editor in March 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is my second stint at the News-Journal. A Louisiana native, I also was in the Leadership Longview class of 2000.