- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
Hundreds of people who have trouble making ends meet, are hungry or homeless, and especially veterans, will get a hot meal thanks to a Hamilton man and some of his business-owner friends.
A Nov. 5 Thanksgiving dinner in Hamilton builds on Edd Bannon’s efforts from one year ago when he and some friends helped to feed 10 area families.
“I want to help the people right here,” Bannon said. “We’ve got people right here sleeping under bridges. We’ve got people right here that need to eat. I want to take care and feed the people in our community.”
Bannon’s efforts caught the attention of Gina Isgro, who owns the restaurant and bar Gina’s, after he posted his philanthropic efforts on his Facebook page.
Isgro told Bannon she was “in” if he decided to feed local residents in need again.
“I watched his posts on Facebook about what he does for people and I said, ‘You know what, that’s a good feeling and I really would love to make somebody else feel good like that,’” Isgro said. “That’s why I wanted to do it, to help him out.”
Then as the word got out about Bannon’s philanthropy, others stepped up, including Patrick Canaan of the Grub Pub, Crystal Hendrix of Legends, Nate Williams of Mutts Brewery Lounge, Mary Burdsall of The Drink, Mike Tincher of Speedy’s Drive Thru, and Scott Pohlman who recently purchased Strikes (formerly Columbia Lanes).
“Community is a real big thing for all of us,” said Pohlman.
“I couldn’t have gotten a better group of people together,” said Bannon, who added that many of those business leaders are also friends who want to give back to a community they love, and who said their hearts break when they see the poverty and hunger in their hometown.
“It goes further than just giving back,” said Hendrix as her eyes reddened with tears. “(My heart) is broken right now.”
Hendrix and the others say it’s hard to see people sleeping in tents by the old dam, having people come up to them asking if they can have food out of their trash, or the embarrassment of a declined credit or debit card.
“It’s all around us and I feel bad,” said Hendrix. And while not all of it is about the drugs, she said drugs do “have to do with a lot of it” and local children suffer due to something that’s “not their fault.”
Bannon said these local business and bar owners are also bikers, and raised money for the dinner when on Oct. 21 they held “Riding for Turkeys.” More than $1,300 was raised for the dinner by 80 riders on 50 motorcycles.
The group is offering free bus transportation to the Nov. 5 event at Strikes, but RSVPs must be made by Saturday, Nov. 4, by calling 513-276-1875.
Children who attend the dinner will be able to bowl for free as well. Anything left over from the Nov. 5 meal at Strikes will go to a local organization that feeds people daily, he said.
“We’re just doing this once a year, but there are shelters here that have to feed people daily,” Bannon said.
“We live in this community. We want the people in this community to be taken care of us much as we can give back,” he said.
“If someone shows up to eat, nine times out of 10 they probably don’t have any food at home,” Bannon said. “We’re going to make sure they leave with food … especially (those) with children.”
He said this an example of what can happen “when a group of friends come together” to do something positive for the community.
“We have done more than I thought,” Bannon said. “But next year I’m going to have bigger expectations because we’re going to do more, and we’ve got the right group to do that.”