How One Donated Thanksgiving Dinner Turned Into 40,000

DALLAS — It’s a story that almost sounds like a holiday miracle. Back in 2000 on Thanksgiving night, Richard Bagdonas gave his plate of leftovers to a homeless man in a wheelchair in Austin. He was so touched by the man's thankfulness that the next year he hit the streets with two plates.

Then it was four meals, two coats and a blanket. Then eight meals. This year, the group now known as Operation Turkey is aiming to hand out 40,000 meals in 12 cities nationwide.

“It’s so exciting 'cause it not only shows you how far it’s come but how far can we go,” said Ashley Williams with the Dallas wing of Operation Turkey.

In Dallas, the goal is to prepare and hand out 2,000 Thanksgiving meals.  If you want to help out the cause you can bring donations of food and clothing to the Saint Sarkis Armenian Church in Carrolton on Wednesday or to the P.F. Changs at NorthPark Center on Thursday morning. And you can always donate online at OperationTurkey.com.

“Our biggest need is probably donations on our website,” said Willaims. “This is a 100% volunteer organization, every single penny that gets donated goes straight to the cost for food. For $2.50 you can feed a person a Thanksgiving meal.”

It’s just good reminder to put others first this time of year, and remember what the holidays are all about.

“To go out there and take care of the people who aren’t as fortunate as you and who maybe can’t have a meal and it just makes you feel so much more blessed about what you have,” Williams said. “And I think that’s important and it’s great for families to do it together because I think it just bonds you so much more.”

Well, if you can’t join Operation Turkey this Thanksgiving, then do something small on your own. Who knows: in 15 years it might be 40,000 times bigger.