Hundreds get a meal thanks to a Hamilton man and his friends

In the second year of feeding Butler County’s hungry, the organizer of Riding for Turkeys said this year’s turnout has “really been amazing.”

Hundreds of those in need, including veterans, ascended Sunday afternoon onto Strikes at Columbia Lanes in Hamilton to break bread, bowl a few games and take food home. And this year, every child left with a pair of gloves, a winter hat and coat, said Edd Bannon, who started the dinner with several of his business-owning friends across Butler County.

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Riding for Turkeys is an annual Thanksgiving dinner that’s made possible with a motorcycle ride, community donations, etc.. The event started at 1 p.m. Sunday and people began lining up at 12:30 p.m.

“This day is amazing,” he said. “If you look around, kids are bowling for free and the fact of matter is we had people line up at 12:30 p.m. ready to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal on us and ready to take food home. I’m very excited about what we’ve done.”

Sunday exceeded their expectations of 300 to 350 people. While they didn’t have a final count as of Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people had already ate a meal a couple hours into the event.

“It’s something I never imagined would turn into this, but I’m so thankful,” he said.

Panera Bread’s Bridgewater Falls bakery-cafe donated breakfast for the bike ride earlier this year, and its West Chester Twp. location at Voice of America donated soup and salad for Sunday’s dinner.

“When it comes down to giving back to the less fortunate, it is something that’s very heart-felt to me,” Amy Smith, Panera Bread regional training manager. A mission of Panera Bread is to help feed the hungry, which is a reason why Smith said she works for Panera.

She said she frequently wants to give back to the community, especially when it comes to feeding the hungry.

“I love children,” said Smith. “I can’t stand a baby going hungry.”

Participating businesses in this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and the Riding for Turkeys fund-raising bike ride earlier, include: Gina Isgro of Gina’s, Brian Draman of Lug Nutz, Mary Ellen Burdsall of The Drink, Patrick Canaan of the Grub Pub, Crystal Hendrix of Legends, Nate Williams of Mutts Brewery Lounge, Mike Tincher of Speedy’s Drive-Thru, and Tasha Cain of The Hitching Post.

The event will be at Strikes at Columbia Lanes, which was owned by Scott Pohlman who died days after the Riding for Turkeys bike ride. Pohlman had looked forward to this event, Bannon said.

“I know Scott’s looking down smiling today,” he said.

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