Orlando | Tampa


Thanksgiving with a Friend

Our second “Thanksgiving with a Friend” event in Parramore, spearheaded by Jennifer H. Desire and the Desire Foundation, was wildly successful. Jen and her incredible team of volunteers shopped, cooked, and served Thanksgiving dinner to 300 people at #814westchurch on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

We had a giant turnout this year, with a line down the street, waiting to enter the Interstruct parking lot set up with tents, tables, chairs and hand-washing stations. In addition to serving a meal with cooked with love, volunteers manned tables covered with piles of neatly folded donated clothing. Every piece (and there was a lot!) was claimed.

Volunteer barbers showed up again and worked non-stop trimming, shaving, cutting, and making their clients feel and look good. Four barbers worked flat-out, all day. Always a person in the chair. The free haircuts have become a fixture at our Unity Mural Project events and is clearly something we could offer more often. If you have any ideas how to add or participate in this service, please reach out to Jenn.

If you’d like to know a little more about the background of Thanksgiving with a Friend, you can read more about our first event with Jennifer H. Desire in 2020.

In Jenn’s own words (lightly edited for clarity), here’s how this project got started.

“When I started “Thanksgiving with a Friend,” the event was small. I made sandwiches and I went downtown and distributed them to the homeless, talked to them, and pretty much spent my entire Thanksgiving Day with them.

I needed a friend, and they needed someone too.

As the years went by, the event grew. I went from feeding 40 people, to feeding 300 people on the day before Thanksgiving. You may not see it but every year I cry and cry and cry at these events. Not only did I gain a family though all our volunteers but everyone who we feed gained a friend.”

– Jennifer H. Desire

Thank you to all the volunteers who make this happen, to photographer Tony Ramzy who always shows up to document these events, and to Jennifer for spearheading such meaningful work for Interstruct to support in Parramore.