Local group helps make sure no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving

aheymann@vagazette.com

On the night before Thanksgiving, most people are at home prepping for guests and a big feast. Over at Bruton High School, volunteers stuffed bags with sandwiches and chips to make sure there were no empty bellies the next day.

For the fourth year in a row, Real People Educating Others distributed lunches and coats to the homeless as part of their Thanksgiving Feed Program.

P.J. Piggott, one of the founders of Real People Educating Others, said he and his friends who started the organization grew up in the Williamsburg area.

“Growing up living in drug-infested communities (my friends and I) actually got out through playing sports and education as well. We always understood the importance of raising a village and giving back,” Piggot said. “One of our friends was actually incarcerated. We actually came up with the idea that when he got home and got released, we wanted to give back to the families and to the community as a whole.”

When Piggott and his friends started the organization in 2008, he said the money to host events was coming out of their own pockets. Now, programs such as the Thanksgiving Feed Program are funded through donations.

Unlike some charities in the area, on Thanksgiving, Real People Educating Others visited the homeless were they are.

”I know churches open up on Thanksgiving morning and have people come to them, but I was thinking about the people that don’t drive that don’t have transportation,” Piggot said.

According to Piggott, the majority of the homeless population in Williamsburg and James City County live in motels rather than on the street. When Piggot visited the motels’ front offices to let them know the group would be coming, he said they were excited to hear about the program.

On Thanksgiving morning, more than 30 volunteers showed up to help distribute bagged lunches and coats at 10 locations.

Each bagged lunch had a sandwich, bottle of water, a piece of candy and chips or a cookie.

“We put a (list of) resources in the bags so not only do they get a meal, but they also have resources … a lot of times people don’t know about the resources they have,” Piggot said.

Selina Freeman, a volunteer, said the most gratifying part of giving out the food was the smiles she saw.

“It's just awesome,” Freeman said. “The smiles on people’s faces when you give them food or whatever else you have to give them.”

At the end of the day, that’s what Piggot said this program is about: sharing kindness with those who need it most.

“We just really want to keep pushing to the kids there is more out there, that you don’t have to fall victim to drugs or trouble or getting locked up,” Piggot said. “If you have a support system, that will take you all through life.”

Want to help?

To learn more about Real People Educating Others or to donate, visit facebook.com/RPEOVA/.

You can also contact Piggott directly at ppiggot@rpeova.org or at 876-0155.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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